Posts Tagged ‘Ohlone’
Symbolic Archetypes in the Native American Mural at the Mission Dolores
Tucked away behind the baroque wooden altar of San Francisco’s oldest standing building, the Mission Dolores, is San Francisco’s oldest known mural. Painted in 1791 by the indigenous Native Americans of the area, the Ohlone; it was partially preserved from the ravages of time by the wooden reredos which was placed over it. The mural depicts a series of geometric designs and swirls which are broken by two yellow circles, one at either side of the mural; each containing a pierced heart. The heart on the right is pierced by a single sword. The heart on the left is pierced by three spears or nails in an image inexplicably reminiscent of the classic Three of Swords card from the Sola Busca and Rider Waite tarots, which form the symbolic base of most modern tarot decks. The Three of Swords, one of the few cards within the Rider-Waite deck not to feature a human figure of any kind: is a card of loss, of betrayal, and of injury to the spiritual heart and passion. And though it is unlikely that the designers and artists of the mural had the tarot specifically in mind; the symbol’s presence in a church hints at a subconscious and spiritual meaning which the symbol of the pierced heart embodies and which mankind recognizes at its deepest levels.
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