STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING – Importance of the tribal storytellers

On a personal level this painting speaks to me of the importance of the tribal storytellers. The title was chosen as the glyphs themselves made me think of all the knowledge and mythology that has and is lost to us because of cultural integration and the passage of time. What were the ancients trying to tell us? Their voices are silent and it is left to us to interpret their message and mythology.

The Silent One by Teyjah

The Silent One, detail

The glyph in the left side shows a shaman or priest and the arc over the top of his head This glyph may represent an observation or solar interactor. These solar interactors would allow an observer standing in that exact location to witness a prominent feature on the horizon or a solar event at certain times. The event is marked by the top right concentric circle motif which is frequently found in Chumash rock art, and is also thought to be a solstice marker.

The snake geoglyph is actually part of a series of four giant figures known as the Blythe geoglyphs near Parker in the Lower Colorado River. The snake geoglyph was created by the removal of blackened desert pavement.

The snake, by shedding its skin, symbolizes changes in the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The snake belongs to the element of fire, which conjures desires and passion in the physical realm and, in the spiritual realm, creates a connection with the Great Spirit and leads to all-encompassing wisdom. At times snake motifs are used to mark rivers. The Hopi Indians in Arizona still use live snakes in their snake dance at the end of the summer season to bring rain.

These sheep are actual representations of those created on basaltic cliffs in the Coso Range of California. Some animal glyphs represent guardian spirits (seen in a vision quest) or even a clan sign. Therefore, a multitude of sheep could represent the Sheep clan.

The squarish yet circular concentric circle found on the lower mid-right represents a whirlwind. The Hopi myth states “a stranger came among the people, when a great whirlwind came and blew all the vegetation from the surface of the Earth and all the water from its courses… He told them he was the keeper of the breath. The whirlwind and the air which men breathe come from this keeper’s mouth” (Mallery)

The concentric circles in the lower left may depict he Chumash’s conception of the universe. This theme I virtually universal and has to do with the ability of the shaman to travel between the upper and middle world to obtain power or knowledge.

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