Brightly Colored Carpets of Sawdust and Flowers for Easter in Guatemala Part 1 of 3

Easter Peace

Peace signs at Easter

Often called “Alfombras de Aserin” or carpets of sawdust, this Easter tradition in Guatemala is incredibly beautiful and has aspects of  its roots solidly in Mayan traditions that go back to long before the Spanish arrived.  With the Spanish came the use of sawdust and flowers for colorful street decorations at Easter-time.  The colorful and fragrant use of carpets of pine needles, flowers and other natural elements has its beginnings in the Mayan custom of creating pathways for kings and priests to walk on when entering ceremonial locations and for use in sacred spaces.  In the alfombras of Guatemala you see a blending of both.

Boys in Guatemala

About midnight on Easter eve, starting the alfombra.

Tzutujil Men before Easter

The start of a long night of making alfombras in San Pedro La Laguna.

Leaves and Bark

This alfombra has a base of leaves and bark.

In the town of San Pedro La Laguna, at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, the people take Easter alfombras quite seriously. Starting the evening before Easter the towns people work all through the night assembling their works of art. They use an assortment of sawdust, vegetables, flowers, tree bark and other natural elements.

Lake Atitlan Tourism Ladie Pine and flowered alfombra Guatemala ladies
Tz'utujil Ladies making an alfombra

Tz'utujil Ladies making an alfombra.

Quetzal in Guatemala Quetzal design Quetzal at Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Completed Quezal birdThis photo set is of the assembling of the alfombras.  I took most of these pictures early on Easter Sunday morning.  My next post will show many of the completed works which will be followed by a post of the procession from the church around town.

Easter Week Preview

Comitan Mexico steeple

Steeple of the Temple of San Jose in Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico.

This week I will have a large collection of some amazing Easter art and pageantry from Guatemala and more shots highlighting some of the beauty of our adopted home here in Comitan.  Here’s one photo photo from each to tease and entice you into coming back for more…

Tzutujil women in Guatemala

Ladies from the Tzutujil town of San Pedro La Laguna working on an alfombra for Easter.

A Bit of Sunday Inspiration

Living outside of the United States in this wired age no longer means that you have to leave your favorite radio stations or news sources behind. Sitting in our living room here in Comitan, sipping our rich locally produced coffee and listening to our favorite radio station KRSH (Wine Country Radio from Sonoma county) , I came across a nice article on NPR’s website. It seems some previously “lost” Ansel Adams photographs have been found again. As a lover of photography and landscapes growing up in the U.S. it is virtually impossible not to study his work at some point.  His photography is so iconic and widely distributed that appreciation for the man gets lost in the mountains of cheap posters and office wall hangings.

Ansel Adams Pueblo

More inspiration from Ansel Adams & NPR

I currently have two cameras for shooting the photographs you will be seeing on this blog.  One is a Panasonic that fits in my pocket and the other is a big Nikon with several lenses. The Nikon and lenses all fit nicely in a backpack but are heavy and draw a lot of attention.  I get tired of carrying the weight and I am sorry to say it is starting to collect dust.  When Ansel Adams started out to take his photos he had to carry a large wooden box camera that sat on a tripod, also made from wood, that weighed as much or more than the camera and a box of glass negatives.  In his own words, “In the 20s and into the 30s, I would carry a 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 glass plate camera — that was a little heavy.”  He eventually started to use smaller cameras and pioneered new territory with what can be done in smaller format photography.

So here I am this Sunday re-inspired by Mr. Adams and the contributions he made to the art of photography.  I found this inspiration, down here at the southernmost tip of Mexico, while browsing the internet and reading NPR’s website.  The National Public Radio system in the United States is one of the countries better accomplishments and a real gem of inspiration for millions of people both in and outside the country.  Click the photo above to go to the story that inspired me this Sunday morning, thank you Mr. Adams, wherever you are….