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Montezuma Calls the Animals to Feed his People

C3224AT-paint.jpg

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Richard Martinez (1904-1987) Opa Mu Nu
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: San Ildefonso Pueblo
  • Medium: opaque watercolor
  • Size: 19” x 23-3/4” image; 28-1/8” x 32-1/2” framed
  • Item # C3224AT
  • Price: $1,500.00

The following legend is from Wikipedia.  I have not heard this legend before but decided to present it as an interesting concept.

Montezuma figures prominently in the religion of the Pueblo Indians, who held that their god-king Montezuma was variously from Taos, Acoma, or one of the other pueblos, and was conceived from a beautiful virgin and a piñon nut. Although weak as a youth, he was chosen to be their unlikely leader, and surprised everyone with his miracles, including the ability to produce rain. He taught the people their customs, and how to build the adobe pueblos. One day he kindled a fire that they were never to allow to burn out, then departed for Mexico (in some versions, on the back of an eagle), promising to return some day and save them from the Spanish.

 

U.S. Attorney W.W.H. Davis, who visited Laguna Pueblo in 1855, was allowed a rare glimpse at some sort of idol or icon of their god Montezuma, whereof he gave a vivid description in his book El Gringo. According to Davis, this object was round, nine inches tall and in diameter, and made of tanned skin. The cover was painted half red and half green, and on the green side were triangular holes for eyes, round pieces of leather for the mouth and ears, and no nose. He said it was kept wrapped in cloth, and was sprinkled with a 'white powder'.

 

The Swiss-American ethnographer Adolph Bandelier asserted in the 1890s that these legends had been invented by the Pueblos fifty years earlier solely to impress American explorers, and were not really part of their religion; he cited a document purporting to be a secret plot to 'teach' the natives that they were the descendants of Emperor Montezuma for political purposes, during the Mexican–American War. However, other documents have since come to light showing that the Spanish too were quite aware of Montezuma's renown in the Pueblo region long before then—the earliest such recorded reference dating to 1694, when the natives told Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino that Montezuma had built what is today known as Casa Grande.

 

Finally, Llewellyn Harris, a Welsh-American Mormon missionary who visited the Zuni in 1878, claimed that they told him they were descended from Montezuma, who was himself descended from white men called "Cambaraga" who came from over the sea 300 years before the Spanish, and that they still had many Welsh words in their language.  Wikipedia

 

These accounts from past decades deserve to be considered with a skeptical eye as there are no documented and published reports that offer the Pueblo version of the connection with Pueblo peoples and Montezuma.  It does make a fascinating legend, however, and I think most of us love legends.

 

Artist Signature - Richard Martinez (1904-1987) Opa Mu NuSan Ildefonso Pueblo Artist Richard Martinez (1904-1987) Opa Mu Nu wrote the title of this painting on the back so it is not a title made up by us but one selected by the artist, so perhaps there is a Pueblo legend that supports this painting.  Montezuma is asking the game animals to make themselves available as food for the Pueblo peoples.  In the background are mountains, over which are a rainbow and partial sun.  It is signed in lower center.

 

Condition:  for years, the painting was stored in the home of Katherine Rust of Albuquerque as unframed so it has a few creases that are not distractingly visible, but do exist.  It has now just been framed with archival materials and a dark brown wood frame.  The paining is priced lower to reflect the condition even though the visible appearance is not affected.

 

Provenance: Montezuma Calls the Animals to Feed his People - from the Katherine H. Rust collection and estate

 

Recommended Reading:  Pueblo Indian Painting—Tradition and Modernism in New Mexico, 1900-1930 by J. J. Brody

 

Close up view of a section of this painting - Buffalo