Apr 21, 2017

Pink Lakes, Blue Lagoon, Yellow City – Why not, Easter is in the Air

No winter lasts forever;
no spring skips its turn.

Hal Borland

Front stairway to Franciscan San Antonio de Padua Convent - Izamal
For hours, I read about yellow, trying to figure out why so many structures, especially churches, are painted this egg yolk yellow in the Yucatán Peninsula.  I have come up with nothing decisive.  Anyone who can enlighten me further is welcome to add a comment below.

Color perfect
The little I did discover is interesting however: ‘For Mayas, red means initiation, white refinement, black or blue transformation and yellow completion.’ Dr. Jose Jaramillo

Yellow is the color of the South; it is the energy of life, used for health, protection and to help adults.  This color gives strength for life.  Yellow is related to the water element and plants.  Mayas use candles in many of their rituals with its yellow glow. 


If not yellow, simple natural stone finish, and white accents
Yellow was also associated with one of the 19 Mayan astrological signs called K’ank’in (4/12-5/1), meaning Earth, Dog, Underworld, Yellow Sun.  Person of the earth and sun…

Regardless of the outcome of my research, I wanted to share the beauty of the ‘Yellow City’ of Izamal in the central part of Yucatán, only one hour from Merida.  Yellow is beautiful against blue skies, white clouds, bright vermilion bougainvilleas, or green vines.  It is a very cheerful color under cloudy darker skies or rainy weather.


Geometric yellow and white
To begin with, you cannot miss the very large Franciscan Convent San Antonio de Padua when you enter Izamal.  It’s yellow structure (at least from the front) is the centerpiece of this city.  It has a very large atrium surrounded by 75 yellow and white arches.  It is said to be the second largest atrium in the world, following the Vatican.  It was built in 1533.
Peeking through the trees
But – there is even more history buried below its foundations.  San Antonio de Padua is built upon the flat top of a great Maya pyramid.  The Mayas were here thousands of years before the convent was built but today, little of that remains.  Artifacts are scattered over the globe in museums and private collections.  So much missing, lost or forgotten.  We can only imagine or glimpse what could’ve been.
The site was considered the home of Kinich-Kakmoo, a Mayan Sun God; a hint of the yellow color of all the buildings or just a coincidence?

Yellow and stone, white arch
Often ignored for the more famous sites like Chichén Itza, Merida, Valladolid or Cancún, Izamal is the most colonial and best preserved of the Yucatán cities, and should not be missed.

Izamal was named a Pueblo Magico in 2002.  It was known for its healing powers so many pilgrims came and still come today to visit this sacred site.  Maybe this is where yellow comes from again, the health of adults…

Yellow arches around the convent (L), arches around town (R)
Yellow arches around convent atrium
That yellow is dazzlingly bright against blue sky
Due to ongoing renovation, we could not see the front of the church. 
Here's a picture from the web on a rare rainy day.
Aging of yellow
We previously visited another Pueblo Magico in the state of Colima in the spring of 2013.  It was all white, rather than yellow.  Not sure if the charm comes from the colors or the feel of the towns and people themselves.  Either way we enjoyed the different charm of each one.  Comala in the high Sierra mountains, and Izamal nearly see level. 

Doctor office waiting room.  Not yellow….
Light shows that the doctor is currently seeing a patient. 
These waiting rooms are open to the streets most of the time.
We visited a small museum/art gallery and saw amazing work, some by a local artist who makes necklaces from beads carved from either a special palm seed or from the henequén spines.  It takes Don Esteban many hours to finish a necklace or earrings.  He will sing, dance, or tell you stories if you visit his workshop.  Other items are made of henequén fiber – loofah type sponges, bags, hammocks, lamp shades, etc.  
Banamex (local bank) is trying to raise awareness of the indigenous and rural arts found around Mexico.  Since 1996 they have traveled the country to choose the best representatives.  Many of these artists have never received formal training, their knowledge passed down from previous generation(s).  Their various artistic practices and techniques are in danger of dying out so Banamex is trying to foster regional identities and histories by highlighting these amazing artists throughout Mexico’s art galleries, museums, etc.  What we saw in this tiny gallery was truly amazing.  Enjoy with the following photos.

Funeral Skeletons by Alfonso Soteno Fernandez
2005, Mexico City
Molded clay
L - Tree of life, Nativity scene, by Oscar Soteno Elias, 2006, Mexico City
 R – Tree of life by Adrian Luis Gonzalez, 2006, Mexico City
 Both made of clay, one with colors
Pre-Hispanic style figurines from Jaina by Miguel Chan Tut
2006, Yucatán
Clay and Maya blue
Church by Jorge Rosano, 2006, Cuernavaca 
Cut paper without tracing first, glue
Baker by Mauricio Hernandez Colmenero, 2006, Guanajuato 
Paper, molded, glued, painted
Dragon Alebrije with feathers by Felipe Linares, 2005, Mexico City 
Scrap paper, wire, glue, paint
Rooster Alebrije by Felipe Linares, 2005, Mexico City 
Scrap paper, wire, glue, paint
Cross with Attributes by Guadalupe Hermosillo Escobar, 2006, Chiapas 
Cast iron forged and engraved
Washbasin, Bell Dolls, Airplane, Church by various artists 2005-2006, Veracruz
 Clay

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