Mayahuel (2019)

Melanie Cervantes
8 – Layer Handmade Screen Print, Printed in my kitchen San Leandro, CA 2019
12″ x 18″, 140 lb/300gsm Canson cold press white watercolor paper, Edition of 85
15.5″ x 23″ Amate bark paper, Handmade in Mexico, Edition of 7

Mayahuel is the Mexica goddess of maguey, a cactus plant from Mexico, and pulque which is a milky fermented drink made from the agave juices. It is said in the Codex Borbonicus that the Mexica used the maguey plant for food, drink, medicine, and fiber. Mayahuel is also one of the goddesses associated with fertility. The Codex Magliabechiano explains that Mayahuel had 400 children known in nahuatl as “centozontotochtin”, which translates to “400 rabbits”.
The maguey plant is a plantita that many of our families have in our homes and use on a regular basis. This is the first of series on memory, healing and the endurance of our old ways. I wanted to create a portrait of a contemporary representation of Mayahuel with details such as the yacametzli, a nose ornament used in pre-invasion times represented here as a modern day septum piercing. The iconography is based on multiple depictions of Mayahuel is different codices, pictoral books that told of ceremonies and the Mexica cosmovision, and reinterpreted as a person from my community.