It’s Friday January 10, 2014 and I am beginning to work on Mask #4. This will be my second effort at creating a female image. Perhaps my will to do so was not as strong as the will of the clay to come forth as a male, but #4 was decidedly not feminine right from its inception. Perhaps this also reflected my skill level at the time, or that many diverse images were floating through my consciousness, and that there was no great rush to prevent #4 from being born with whatever visage the clay offered up. I didn’t fight it, it seemed to have a life of it’s own. As it took shape it became quite apparent that this mask was not going to become the elusive “Asian Woman Red” that I had first sought when I was creating Mask #3 – Rinpoche.
One of the many mask images that I wanted to create can be loosely defined as “North and/or Central American indigenous male”. I had a general preconception of such a face as I was hoping to effect, and also spent a considerable amount of time researching and reviewing imagery which is now so plentiful online. It’s all there, and I eventually found myself drawn to Huron and Mayan faces.
With a mind to glazing and coloration of the final “look”, I was drawn to the repeated use of red face paint that I found online – primarily the upper part of the face with additional details in either white or black. This usage doesn’t appear to cross the border into Mayan territory, where facial adornment has a completely different cultural style and meaning.
It wasn’t until after Mask #4 came out of the Kiln and was fired, glazed & painted that the Mayan name Chaac returned to me from deep memory. As one who had been exposed to global culture since childhood – by way of National Geographic magazine, the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican statue of a Chacmool had resided within me for some time and was now finding a way to enter my creative space as a name for one of my masks. Although the Chacmool, “symbolised slain warriors carrying offerings to the gods”, the name “Chaac” refers specifically the the Mayan rain deity, who:
“Like other Maya gods, Chaac is both one and manifold. Four Chaacs are based in the cardinal directions and wear the directional colors. In 16th-century Yucatán, the directional Chaac of the east was called Chac Xib Chaac ‘Red Man Chaac’,”…Here is the final outcome of Red Man Chaac with antlers, and adorned with one of my necklaces.
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