Readers have asked about our logo—What does it mean? Why are we using it? So here’s the story……
On one of our Friday adventures we found a large, well-maintained capilla which we were ready to paint, but then, we spotted the telltale bell tower of another capilla in the distance and, you know, the grass is always greener…. Spotting it was the easy part; finding it involved fording a river carrying all our painting supplies and threading our way along a path past goats, sheep and dogs to the small, modest and still used Capilla de San Juan. A helpful neighbor got the keys to the gate and capilla.
Inside the calvario¹ was our first sighting of the double-headed eagle symbol, primitively painted, but intriguing. No one in the neighborhood knew what it was or what it meant.
If we had been better students of history we might have known what it was, as many of our readers do, and saved ourselves time and effort. We thought it was an indigenous symbol ripe with meaning and tried mightily to trace that line of thought coming up with some minor stories in the mythology of the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
The next week we went back to Don Francisco to paint the Iglesia San Nicholás and found, to our surprise, the same double-headed eagle, this time, carved expertly in stone on the baptismal font.
A few weeks later we found the symbol of the double-headed eagle again, this time, carved in the keystone of the arch over the entrance gate to the Capilla de Santa Cruz in La Palmita Dos.
What is this symbol?
These sightings were all in the same general area but we have since found the double-headed eagle prominently carved on the façade of the Capilla de San Francisco2 in Rancho Viejo.
Web research revealed that the double-headed eagle was a ubiquitous motif in early colonial Mexico when the Spanish empire was ruled by the Habsburgs. The indigenous peoples of Mexico already had many myths of two-headed animals (some eagles) and monsters and incorporated a familiar image from the coat of arms of their Spanish conquerors into motifs that to this day appear in textiles, carvings and other crafts as well as in churches and these rural capillas.
The double-headed eagle, whatever its origins and apparent synchronicity between cultures, is one example in our capilla painting adventures of how we seek to make meaning of our experiences for ourselves and for, you, our readers….thus the logo.
¹See blog post What is a Capilla? At the bottom of the post is a paragraph about calvarios.
2See blog Rancho Viejo—The Two-Headed Eagle for more information.
© 2016 Lorie Topinka