Chimalli – mobile with glasses and light
I wanted to create a mobile with natural materials that could work partly as a lamp, partly as a glass holder and with a story behind it.
During my walks in the forest with my dog Pricket, I managed to gather a variety of branches that made me think of the words “origin”, “roots”, “foundation”, “source”.
So I decided to paint Mexican decorative patterns with acrylics on the branches and that led to old memories manifesting in my heart and leaving a “wish” behind. Wishing for more time, more encounters… and I gave this project the name “I Wish”.
I had done pieces for the project, but these memories made me cry and I had to take a pause and think how to build up the story for this mobile.
Later on, I changed the name of the project, ‘cause is not about me. The story is about Chimalli.
The last years of his life, Chimalli became more and more interested in his family roots and decided to change his name to honor his great grandfather who had Aztec blood. He not only took an Aztec name, he also started to learn how to speak Náhuatl (the Aztecs language) and ancient Aztec dance.
The symbol at the end of the mobile is called “Ollin”, the Náhuatl word for “Movement”. Chimalli loved to travel and dance.
I was fourteen years old when I met Chimalli and we became best friends. It was on the 70´s, the hippie time with peace and love. Most of our friends where musicians and we spend a lot of time listening to them when they rehearse and when they played on parties. We where a gang of about ten kids that became less with the years, leaving a tight group of four with Martha, Ralph, Chimalli and me. The years had pass, we all took different paths and we lost track of each other until Martha, Chimalli and me found our selves again on Facebook for some years ago. It´s funny, but even thou we had been many years apart, it felt like “home” when talking to each other again. As if time had not passed.
The colorful yarn represent the 48 years knowing Chimalli, his journey thru life, his return to the source of all life and having now the power to see and understand the unknown. It is inspired by the “God’s Eye” from the “Huicholes”.
The “Huicholes” are an indigenous people of Mexico living in the Sierra Madre Occidental they refer to themselves as Wixáritari (”the people”) in their native Huichol language.
They make an annual pilgrimage of almost 500 km to return to the source of all life and heal oneself on Wirikuta (where they originally came from). The pilgrimage begins with a ceremony in front of the community.
During the journey, the pilgrims assume the characteristics of gods. When the pilgrims arrive at Wirikuta, they hunt for the ”Deer God”, the source of peyote. They collect peyote for a year’s supply and they eat enough to have visions. The Peyote is essential for the shaman to contact the gods.
When a child is born, they make a ritual tool called ”Ojo de Dios” or ”God’s Eye” to protect the child. It is made by weaving with colorful yarn upon a wooden cross. The father weaves the central “eye”, and then one eye is added for every year of the child’s life until they reach the age of five. This is the age when the children are initiated in the ceremony of the peyote.
The Huichol call the ”God’s Eye” Sikuli, which means ”the power to see and understand things unknown”. The cross of the “God’s Eye” stands for the four directions: earth, fire, water, and air.
Chimalli was playful and free. One of my strongest memories was when we were at a wine and cheese fair. We tasted all the wine and ended banned from the place because Martha and me were on Ralphs and Chimallis shoulders dancing and laughing like crazy. The glasses represent those good times.
Chimalli loved the sea, the forest and the sky. He was free but grounded and I always felt secure when hanging together. I imagined him like some sort of a warrior and now it makes sense, since ”Chimalli” is the Aztec for ”shield”. This is represented with the shells for the sea, the leaves for the forest, the feathers for the sky and Chimalli with the small metallic shields.
Chimalli is now part of everything, but he left his light on all us.
Chimalli Javier Alcántara Friedl
1955 – 2019
Present in our hearts