The Legend of the Fifth Sun
Written by Yolanda Peach. Illustrated by Ricardo Leon Jimenez
To be Mexican is to have a special relationship with death. The ancient tradition of celebrating death is part of the Mexican national identity. Commemorating death is much more than a "fiesta"; it is also a reflection of the coexistence of life and death. For life to exist, one must surrender themselves to the inevitable death where you will encounter rebirth and reunion with your loved ones.
For graphic artist Daniel Hernadez, the concept of death is a constant struggle to give meaning to life. In his work, Confrontación (The Showdown), he explores the duality of death as a "Dionysian beauty, somewhat gloomy, but beautiful in some way."
Commemorating death is much more than a "fiesta"; it is also a reflection of the coexistence of life and death.
Confrontación is inspired by the Aztec legend, The Fifth Sun. According to the legend, the Gods met in Teotihuacan to give rise to The Fifth Sun. After the sun was created, the Gods realized how it remained still in the sky. To induce the sun's motion, the Gods decided to sacrifice themselves.
One by one, they offered their own lives, throwing themselves into the fire. Notwithstanding, one of the Gods, Xolotl, refused to sacrifice himself for the sun's good and decided to go into hiding.
As a powerful God, Xolotl had the special ability to transform himself into any object or animal he wished. First, he decided to hide in the cornfields where he took the shape of a double split cornstalk, which today the farmers call xolotl.
When he was discovered between the corn's feet, he escaped to an agave field, where he transformed himself into a two-bodied agave plant, commonly known as mexolotl.
His camouflage did not help much as he was found again. He tried to hide once more and plunged himself into the water, taking the form of a Mexican salamander, called axolotl, a curious animal that has the gift of regenerating parts of its body.
Unfortunately, as an axolotl, Xolotl was eventually captured and sacrificed. When the first drop of his blood fell into the fire, the sun began to move, concluding the creation of The Fifth Sun. Now, Xolotl has the mission of guarding the sun as it travels through the underworld every night.
In his artwork, Confrontación, Hernandez portrays the axolotl clinging on for its dear life, preparing to confront the inevitability of death. The axolotl presents a mixed feeling of determination and resignation, the attributes of Xolotl himself.
In his artwork, Confrontación, Hernandez portrays the axolotl clinging on for its dear life, preparing to confront the inevitability of death.
Confrontación (The Showdown) by Daniel Hernandez