El Verdadero Simbolo Nacional (The True National Symbol)
Acrylic on Canvas – 40″ x 24″
Oliverio Balcells 2005
Mexicans have a legacy that has not been recovered, a part of the legacy is the true discovery of the national symbol. The eagle, the prickly pear cactus, the prickly pear fruit, the water and the sizzling water.
The eagle is the symbol of freedom. The Mexicans explain it in a poetic fashion; when the sun comes up it is a hummingbird, then it transforms itself into the quetzal bird, then into a parrot and finally an eagle, that descends to die.This is an astronomical occurrence, the process of the evolution of the sun as much as in a day as in a year.
With the winter solstice Huitzilopochtli is born. Huitzilopochtli signifies the southern hummingbird and when the sun moves to the north being the summer solstice it is eagle, and when the sun returns and passes by the zenith of the island of Tenochtitlan is when Mexico City is founded. The astronomical occurrence was the signal they searched for. It is not literally the eagle devouring a snake what they found.
The prickly pear cactus is the symbol of immortality, there is a saying that goes, if we throw a piece of prickly pear in any arid or desert area, from this another prickly pear cactus will be born. The prickly pear cactus is born from a rock, that speaks to us of its firmness of cementation.
Tenochtli is the prickly pear fruit, tetl means rock and nochtli prickly pear fruit; so Tenochtitlan is the place where the tough prickly pear fruit abounds. Besides that the symbol of the heart and the symbol of the prickly pear are identical, here it is saying that the human being’s heart is strong and solid.
The water reflects back to us the quality of the people to mold themselves to their circumstances, the quality of knowing how to flow, that of transparency.
The sizzling water is the conjunction of fire with water, that signifies strength, the impetus that human beings have to fight against its daily life adversaries, this symbol is what the chroniclers confused with the serpent. The fusion of the water with fire creates a sound, this sound is Atlachinolli.
All these symbols in conjunction offer us a very important interpretation, that we all should know, that is that the moment in which Tenochtitlan was founded, there was an astronomical occurrence, that of the sun passing by the zenith. The water speaks to us of a culture that can mold itself to things, that never has obstacles to achieve its objectives, that we are a solid and firm culture, with the prickly pear fruit it speaks to us that we are people with a strong and solid heart, that in the sizzling water we find the force and impetus to fight against adversaries, that in daily life we can be presented with the eagle that tells us that we are owners of our freedom.
This is the background of the symbolism, waiting to be known and protected, that we should utilize and use this atlachinolli to face the world.
—Carlos Hernández Parra, Researcher from the Museum of Popular Culture of Jalisco