La Cañada de la Virgen and the Brick Yard


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Today we are going to Muse about Mexican Pyramids and brickyards.  If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

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The Pyramid of La Cañada de la Virgen

Not far from San Miguel de Allende there is an archeological site with a pyramid that has recently been opened to the public.  It is on private land so access is restricted.  The site is called La Cañada de la Virgen.

Jeanette and I and our friend Janet decided to hire a driver-guide and go check it out.  Antonio was our driver.  Very nice fellow, excellent driver and guide.  He also spoke English well which we appreciated.

I asked him, “What does this have to do with Canada?”

He looked at me, paused and replied, “It is Can Yah Dah.”

Canyon!  Duh!

The pyramid is near a canyon called canyon of the virgin.  Antonio explained that long ago a geode was found in the canyon.  When the geode was broken open the people saw the image of the virgin and so the canyon was so named.  The pyramid and surrounding site had nothing to do with the virgin, although it was a religious site.  The people who build it inhabited the area from 500 AD to 1050 AD.

Off we went heading south of SMA toward Celaya.  We went along the reservoir formed by the Allende dam.  It is a large body of water as seen here.

Overlooking the Lake

Overlooking the Lake

Now I will show you something interesting.  Look at the body of water.  About a third way into the picture in from the right edge of the photo you can see something in the water.  What do you suppose it is?

Bell Tower in the lake

Bell Tower in the lake

It is the bell tower of a church.  When the dam was created  it flooded some forty villages.  The people were moved to higher ground.

The pyramid is out in the county on private land.  Visitors are bused to about a mile and a half from the ruin and then they must go ahead on foot.  It is more than 7000 feet high and the walk is uphill.  We had to take it slowly.

starting out

starting out

Here you see the other people who were on our bus starting the walk.

Antonio, Jeanette and Janet

Antonio, Jeanette and Janet

And of course our group.  You can see it was uphill.

In time we came to the pyramid.

approaching the pyramid

approaching the pyramid

The roadway approaching the pyramid and the pyramid itself are aligned with the sun in March.  The Indian people were masters of astronomy.

diagram of archeological site

diagram of archeological site

The site has four main areas.  In the center is the main pyramid, complex A.

pyramid

pyramid

Then there is a short round tower, complex D, that celebrated the wind.  Complex B is another pyramid and was used to study the stars.  Complex C has not been excavated yet.

The main pyramid is large, built of rough stones which were faced with smaller smoother stones.

pyramid

pyramid

Here you see the rough stones and then the smaller stones (the low partial walls at ground level).

The final surface was larger smooth stones.  They are mostly gone but this is an example.

outter surface

outer surface

Here you see the structure used to study the stars.

To study the stars

To study the stars

The wall on the left continues around behind where I was standing when I took this photograph and down on the right so that the open space before us was completely enclosed.  The people would fill the enclosed space with water.  They had to hand carry the water since this on the top of the hill.  What a job that must have been!  Anyway, they would fill the enclosure with water.  At night it would act like a mirror enabling them to study the sky looking down instead of craning their necks skyward.

One of the very interesting finds was a body that had been buried on the site that predated the site.  Carbon dating established that the body was 1000 years older than the site.  It must have been a very important person to have been carried with them over ten centuries.

Eventually it was time to head back.  It was a pretty good walk.

the long path

the long path

On the way back Antonio asked if we would like to stop at the house of a local potter.  He said the family made pottery in the way the Indians had done for hundreds of years, all by hand with no molds or tools.  We said”OK.  That would be fun“.

potter's house

potter’s house

The compound was very primitive.  Obviously the people were poor.

pottery

pottery

We bought a simple bowl.  Janet did too.  Less than $20 for both.  I think it was Antonio’s way of taking care of the family.

The Brick Yard

The primary industry of the village in which the potter lived was brick making.

bricks in the making

bricks in the making

The bricks are formed with mud (clay) mixed with straw and manure, seen on the right.  They are laid out on the ground to initially dry.  When firm enough they are stacked to dry further and finally fired in a kiln, the structure in the middle.

We must have seen twelve of these sites and I am certain there are more.

brick works

brick works

brick kiln

brick-kiln

finished bricks

finished bricks

Our adventure of the day was at an end:  pyramid, pottery and bricks.  We headed home for cocktail hour.

more to come

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About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
This entry was posted in art, art exhibit, English, indians, life style, Mexico, tourism, travel, work and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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