The Jaguar

The Jaguar – acrylic painting by Heni Sandoval

The Jaguar is a new painting for my rainforest series.  Jaguars are the largest cats native to the Americas and third largest cats in the world behind lions and tigers. The jaguar once roamed from Argentina all the way up to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today, jaguars have been almost completely eliminated from the United States.  This endangered cat hangs on in remote regions of Central America and South America.  My niece spent time in Costa Rica on a college research trip and was fortunate to see a black jaguar in the dead of night.

Jaguar is a Native American word meaning, “he who kills with one blow.”  In  pre-Columbian America the jaguar was seen as a god in Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala.  The Mayans saw him as the god of the underworld.

The idea for this painting came to me a couple weeks ago.  My daughter is spending a semester abroad in Prague, and has taken advantage of her free time traveling to many exciting places,  She’s been to Paris, Rome, Naples and now, Vienna and is having a great time on her adventures.   We are excited for her because she’s broadening her horizons by learning about and experiencing other cultures.  It’s brought back to mind wonderful memories of my travels.   One of those memories was a trip with my husband down to the Oaxaca, Mexico region.  In a small arts village, I  bought him a bright hand painted and carved, wooden jaguar that he keeps in his office for good luck.  This jaguar painting is also for my husband and a reminder of our happy memories of Mexico.

Day of the Dead

Crow in the Know - Acrylic Painting by Heni Sandoval
Crow in the Know – Acrylic Painting by Heni Sandoval

Late one night in the wee hours I awoke to a strange shrill cry outside the window which is just above our bed.  I looked up and saw a crow staring at me from the ledge who then flew away; it was very startling and a bit frightening.   I had heard crows can be omens of death;  luckily nothing bad came to pass.    The crow in this painting seems to me like he is  standing on a window ledge somewhere in a Mexican Village looking down on a festive evening, perhaps the Dia De los Muetos.

I learned about the Day of Dead years ago when we lived in Oakland California.  Each year the Oakland Museum had a wonderful Day of the Dead exhibit of  colorful alters done by various local groups.  The Dia De los Muetos is a Mexican holiday celebrated on this day where families gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  Happy Day of the Dead to all!