On September 30th, 2009 the ritual performed by the flying men of Papantla was recognized by the UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The ritual is a fertility dance that has its origin in the Mexican state of Veracruz. It consists of five men who climb up a pole eighteen to forty meters high, four of them tie their feet to a rope and glide down while the fifth man plays a flute and a small drum. The entire ritual, including the number of times the men spin while gliding down has symbolic meanings that dates back to Pre-Columbian times.
I’ve seen the flying men of Papantla perform on many occasions. When I read the news I wanted to create image about it, but didn’t get around to it. However, I recently found about Illustration Friday. A blog in which a topic is posted every Friday. Anyone can submit their interpretation of the topic. I’ve never participated, but last Fridays topic was “flying”. It seemed like a great opportunity to participate and to jump start the illustration about the flying men of Papantla I’ve been meaning to do. You can here an interview with Penny Dullaghan, the creator of IIllustration Friday here.
I’m very happy with the way the image turned out. The image does not adhere to the Western idea of perspective -there is no such thing as a vanishing point in the image. Therefore I tried playing around and have characters that are seen from above, while simultaneously others are seen in profile.
This is a video of the ritual: