The Three Sisters Mural
The Three Sister Mural
Day of the Dead Mural
November 2, 2010
Daniel T. Lopez and Jada Grant
The Day of the Dead mural was created to honor past generations in the form of myth and symbolism. This year Malilani Ramos Lopez came up with the theme “The Three Sisters, Corn, Squash and Beans” Maize, squash and beans were referred to as the “Three Sisters” in Aztec agriculture. The mural was envisioned as a mixture of pre-Columbian and modern style of painting using the art of Mexican Borgia Codex as a base for developing the art. The animistic and pantheistic mythology of the pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico gave raise to incredibly rich art form. It was a complex weave of images whose rich symbolism wove intricate patterns of icons and symbols that expressed their mythology and their way of life.
The basic food triad was corn, beans and squash, which was sacred to them. Today these foods are still prevalent in Mexican cuisine. In portraying the main food sustenance of indigenous Mexico we honor our cultural past that has keep our spirits alive throughout the millennium. In the Codex Chimalpopoca there is a special section called the Legend of the Suns. The creator gods Texcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl are given the task of making the Fifth Sun and inhabiting it with different beings. By tearing the earth monster, Tlaltecuhtli, in two, the earth and sky materialized. The task of making humans is then allocated to Quetzalcoatl. In bringing the bones form the underworld and creating humans Quetzalcoatl eventually discovered that human being needed corn to sustain them selves. Thus the center image is devoted to honor corn, indigenous Mexicans and their contribution to the world. Corn was the staple crop of Mexico. The center image symbolizes the axis mundi the sacred point that pierces and connects the heavens, earth and the underworld with the stalk of the corn. Corn then becomes primal sustenance of human beings.
The right side image is dedicated to beans the ‘phaseolus vulgaris,’ was domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes. It is now grown and consumed worldwide. The importance of beans to Aztec is indicated by listing it as a tribute item to the Aztec empire and was second only to maize in the Aztec diet.
The panel on the right is dedicated to squash. Squash was very important to the Aztec agricultural system. There are many varieties of squash that were utilized by Aztec framers. The pumpkin was used because it seeds provided a rich source of protein. The bottle gourd was grown because after being eaten, it could be used as a water container.
Maize, squash and beans were referred to as the “Three Sisters” in Aztec agriculture. These three crops were planted together because they kept the nutrients in the soil, ensuring the crops would grow well and the people would have the food they needed.
The two skeletal figures at the bottom of the mural are dedicated to the Aztec progeny who took forward the food and cultural sustenance into the future. They also honor Jose Guadalupe Posada whose work have inspired todays Day of the Dead images.
This mural is currently housed at the Steele Lane Community Center in Santa Rosa California and the city of Santa Rosa is alsso owner.