domingo, 8 de noviembre de 2009

Adam's Tarot Weblog


I have just received my first ever Venezuelan Tarot ! I am not sure if this is the only Venezuelan tarot to be published. It is entitled El Tarot de Maria Lionza and was published in Caracas in 2004. The artwork for the deck is by Jose Figueras Diaz. The Minors are conventional with non emblematic pips and simple images for the Courts, but the Majors are a series of rather fine drawings probably in coloured pencil but possibly in pastels. The imagery is for the most part conventional. It is based on the legendary figure María Lionza, the central figure in one of the most widespread indigenous religions in Venezuela. The religious cult which developed in her name is a blend of African, indigenous, and Catholic beliefs similar to the Caribbean Santería and she is revered as a goddess of nature, love, peace, and harmony. Some people believe that Maria Lionza was a real historical figure born in 1502 to an Indian Chief from the region of Yarucay. Her name comes from Maria de la Onza (Mary of the Jaguar) derived in turn from the full name 'Santa Maria de la Onza Talavera de Prato de Nivar' ascribed to her by the Catholic Church in order to obscure and Christianise her cult. She is also known by her followers as "La Reina" ("The Queen"). Her cult was revived in the 1940's when writers and artists were looking back to Venezuela’s pre-European period in response to a number of archaeological discoveries in the late 1930s and there was a conscious attempt to link her to this rediscovered past. An interesting legend has grown up around the supposed historical character:

"Yara, or Maria Lionza as she was known afterwards, was an indigenous princess. She was the daughter of Yaracuy, the chief of the Nivar tribe, the granddaughter of Chief Chilua and the great-granddaughter of Chief Yare, all great warriors and leaders. The shaman of the village had predicted before Yara was born that if a girl was born with strange, watery-green eyes, she would have to sacrificed and offered to the Master of the Waters, the Great Anaconda, because if not it would lead to the ruin and extinction of the Nivar tribe.
However, her father was unable to sacrifice her and so he hid the little girl in a mountain cave, with 22 warriors to watch over her and stop her from leaving. She was also forbidden from looking at her image reflected in water.
But one day, her guards were mysteriously put to sleep and the beautiful young girl left the cave and walked to a lagoon, where she looked into the water and saw her reflection for the first time. Captivated by her own image, she was unable to move, but her presence awakened the Master of the Waters, the Great Anaconda, who emerged from the depths, fell in love with the girl, and drew closer to take her away. When she resisted its advances the anaconda swallowed the girl, but immediately he began to swell up, forcing the water out of the lagoon, flooding the village and drowning the tribe. Finally, the anaconda burst and Maria Lionza was set free, becoming the owner of the lagoon, the river and the waters, the protecter of the fish and later of all the plants and animals."