~~February 9, 2014~~
As some of you may know, there was a special celebration in our household last night. We celebrated Maryjane’s birthday.
During these kind of celebrations, gifts make their way to the “honoree”.
These gifts signify, in part, a demonstration of the relationship between the “giver” and the “receiver”. It’s a means of saying that one is important to the “giver”.
Among the many presents that Maryjane received last night, there is one that really stands out.
The picture noted above is a hand-made painting with “illustrations” that have much significance to someone who is from Puerto Rico. These depict many of the important aspects of Puerto Rican history, monuments, folklore, customs and icons.
This is a “labor of love”.
This piece of art has been painted on a Spanish tile …. the background was prepared and painted with various base coats and eventually became the ocean. Each “Illustration” was carefully researched, googled and painted over the base.
~~FINISHED PIECE ON THE ARTIST’S WORK STATION~~
This piece took time and effort to be completed – and it had to be completed before the birthday celebration. When I asked the artist told me that it took her four days of daily and persistent work to finish the piece on time.
It shows a dedication to detail with an intention to finally portray the importance of the relationship between the “giver” and the “receiver”.
I would like to take this opportunity to explain what the meaning behind these “illustrations”.
The structure on the Lt. side of the painted tile is “El Morro” Fort.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro also known as Fort San Felipe del Morro or Morro Castle, is a 16th-century citadel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
American Military Occupation (1898–1961)
El Morro and many other Spanish government buildings in Old San Juan then became part of a large U.S. Army post, called Fort Brooke. In the early 20th century, the U.S. military filled up the esplanade, or green space in front of “El Morro” with baseball diamonds, hospitals, officers’ quarters, an officers’ club and even a golf course.
During World War II the United States Army added a massive concrete bunker to the top of El Morro to serve as a Harbor Defense Fire Control Station to direct a network of coastal artillery sites, and to keep watch for German submarines which were ravaging shipping in the Caribbean.
A lighthouse, rebuilt by the U.S. Army in 1906–08 is the tallest point on El Morro, standing 180 feet (55 m) above sea level. Flagpoles on El Morro today customarily fly the United States flag, the Puerto Rican flag and the Cross of Burgundy Flag, also known in Spanish as las Aspas de Borgoña, a standard which was widely used by Spanish armies around the world from 1506–1785.
National Park (1961–present)
In 1961, the United States Army officially retired from El Morro. The “fort” became a part of the National Park Service to be preserved as museums. In 1983, the Castillo and the city walls were declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. In honor of the Quincentennial of the voyages of Columbus in 1992 the exterior esplanade was cleared of palm trees that had been planted by the U.S. Army in the Fort Brooke era, and restored to the open appearance this “field-of-fire” for El Morro’s cannon would have had in colonial Spanish times.
Parking lots and paved roads were also removed, and the El Morro lighthouse repaired and restored to its original appearance. El Morro was used as a film set in the 1996 motion picture Amistad. Steven Spielberg used it to represent a fort in Sierra Leone where African slaves were auctioned in 1839.
African slave labor was used in addition to local labor to help build the castillo. El Morro was a defensive military fortification and a major component of San Juan’s harbordefense system. Puerto Rico as such was considered by the Spanish crown as the “Key to the Antilles”; no enemy ship could navigate its waters without fear of capture.
Coquí is the common name for several species of small frogs in the Eleutherodactylus genus that are endemic to the island of Puerto Rico. They are onomatopoeically named for the very loud mating call which the males of two species, the common coquí and the mountain coquí, make at night. The coquí is one of the most common frogs in the archipelago of Puerto Rico. More than 16 different species live in the island, 13 of which occur in the Caribbean National Forest. Other species of this genus can be found in the rest of the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Neotropics, in Central and South America.
Puerto Rico State Flower
Puerto Rican hibiscus is the Puerto Rico State Flower. Puerto Rican hibiscus is also commonly known as Thespesia grandiflora, Maga grandiflora, Montezuma and flor de maga. Puerto Rican hibiscus is cultivated mostly as an ornamental tree for the beauty of its flowers although it is also valued for its timber.
The Puerto Rican hibiscus (Maga) is different from the common hibiscus. The Maga is a tree which grows tall. Maga tree or Puerto Rican hibiscus tree is an attractive small to medium sized tree, with dark green foliage and large dark pink or red flowers. Puerto Rican hibiscus flowers are cup-shaped and are 7.5 to 9 cm and 9.0 to 13 cm, broad with five overlapping petals. The Puerto Rican hibiscus flowers are borne singly on long petioles from leaf bases.
Puerto Rican hibiscus stand singly on long petioles from leaf bases. Puerto Rican hibiscus are produced intermittently throughout the year in warm climates. Puerto Rican hibiscus grows near San Juan in north-eastern Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican hibiscus is endemic to the humid forests of Puerto Rico.
Facts About Puerto Rican hibiscus
- Puerto Rican hibiscus flowers between 5-7 years of age.
- Puerto Rican hibiscus leaves are Heart-shaped, shiny green, usually ranging in size from 5 cm to 20 cm (2 to 8 inches) long.
- Puerto Rican hibiscus Fruit Capsule is a flattened indehiscent leathery sphere.
- Puerto Rican hibiscus seeds are the grayish brown seeds, 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Both the capsules and the hard seeds are buoyant and can be dispersed to very long distances by sea water.
- Puerto rican hibiscus flowers depends on bats and birds for dispersal.
~~MARYJANE WAS BORN IN THE SMALL MOUNTAIN TOWN OF AIBONITO~~
Aibonit is a small mountain municipality in Puerto Rico located in the Mountain range of Cayey, north of Salinas; south of Barranquitas and Comerio; east of Coamo; and west of Cidra, and Cayey. Aibonito is spread over 8 wards and Aibonito Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Aibonito is located on a relative high elevation (its main plaza is the highest in the island at 2,401 ft [731 m] above sea level), which makes its climate cooler than most of Puerto Rico‘s towns.
|Aibonito, Puerto Rico
|Nicknames: La Ciudad de las Flores”, “La Ciudad Fría”, “El Jardín de Puerto Rico”, “La Nevera De Puerto Rico
Location of Aibonito in Puerto Rico
||March 13, 1824
~~i WAS RAISED IN THE TOWN OF RIO PIEDRAS~~
Río Piedras is a district of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Founded as a separate municipality in 1714, it has been the home of the University of Puerto Rico’s main campus since 1903, earning the town the popular name of Ciudad Universitaria (University City). Rio Piedras was recognized as a municipality until 1951 when it was incorporated into the municipality of San Juan.
Río Piedras’ origins go back to 1714 when a settlement along the shores of the Piedras river was recognized by Governor Juan de Rivera. Originally known as El Roble, it eventually adopted the name of the river that crossed its territory (Río Piedras in Spanish).
On May 12, 1903 the University of Puerto Rico was founded in Río Piedras. The university was a central part of the development of Rio Piedras, both in housing and economically. Even though the campus covers a very small portion of the territory, it is considered the unofficial symbol of the old town. Currently, the Río Piedras Campus is recognized as the main campus in the University of Puerto Rico system. The Botanical Gardens of the University are also located at Río Piedras.
Incorporation into San Juan
The municipality became part of the capital city of San Juan on July 1, 1951, after the approval of Project 177 of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico.
Following the annexation of Rio Piedras, the city of San Juan, and its surrounding area now including Rio Piedras, quadrupled its former size.
On the Rt. hand side of the painted tile you see the depiction of Old San Juan, El Jibarito, the banana tree, the Loiza masks and the typical Puerto Rican musical instruments.
Old San Juan (Spanish: Viejo San Juan) is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and is the historic colonial section of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Old San Juan is located on a small and narrow island which lies in the north coast, about 35 miles (56 km) from the east end of Puerto Rico, and is united to the mainland of Puerto Rico by the three bridges. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and to the south by San Juan Bay or “Bahia de San Juan” which lies between the city and the mainland. On a bluff about 100 feet (30 m) high at the west end of the island and commanding the entrance to the harbor rise the battlements of Fort San Felipe del Morro, in which there is a lighthouse.
The “Caño de San Antonio” lies also in South Coast and extends to the Southeast where the island of Old San Juan connects to the mainland through Santurce by three bridges, “Puente Dos Hermanos” (Ashford Avenue), “Puente G. Esteves” (Ponce de León Avenue) and “Puente San Antonio” (Fernández Juncos Avenue).
The city is characterized by its narrow, blue cobblestone streets and flat-roofed brick and stone buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th century when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. Near Fort San Felipe del Morro is the Casa Blanca, a palace on land which belonged to the family of Ponce de Leon.
A Puerto Rican (Spanish: puertorriqueño) (Taíno: boricua) is a person who was born in Puerto Rico. People born and raised in other parts of the world, most notably in the continental United States, of Puerto Rican parents are also sometimes referred to as Puerto Ricans.
Puerto Ricans commonly refer to themselves as boricuas.
In Puerto Rico, the Jíbaro culture has its origins in the Native Taino culture and the term Jíbaro usually refers to “La Gente de la Montañas” (the people of the interior mountainous regions of Puerto Rico) and emerged in the 16th century with the blending of the Pre-Columbian Native Taino and Spanish European cultures in the central mountains of the island of Puerto Rico. Some elements of the jíbaro culture are still visible today. For example, when Luis Muñoz Marín founded the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in 1938, the party adopted the jíbaro hat, the pava, as its symbol. The PDP seal shows the pava with the words “Pan, Tierra, y Libertad“, which translates to “Bread, Land, and Freedom”. Also, every Christmas, Puerto Ricans use the Jíbaro instruments, music, and cuisine to celebrate these festivities.
The first known use of the word “jíbaro” occurred in 1814 in Diario Económico de Puerto Rico. In that paper there is a letter to the editor dated 17 June 1814 signed by “El Gíbaro Paciente” (The Patient Jíbaro). It is used in the context of an indigenous Puerto Rican character.
~~Modern usage of the word~~
Since at least the 1920’s,the term Jíbaro has a more positive connotation in Puerto Rican culture, proudly associated with a cultural ideology as pioneers of Puerto Rico.
The term occasionally also has a negative connotation. A jíbaro can mean someone who is considered ignorant or impressionable due to a lack of a more European style of education. Despite this negative connotation, the image of the jíbaro represents an ideology of a traditional Puerto Rican: hard-working, simple, independent, and prudently wise.
Colloquially, the jíbaro imagery serves as a representation of the roots of modern Puerto Rican people, and symbolizes the strength of traditional values of living simply and properly caring for homeland and family.
A vejigante is a folkloric character in Puerto Rican festival celebrations (mainly seen in Carnival time). Traditional colors of the Vejigantes were black, red, white, and yellow. Today, vejigantes wear brightly colored, ornate masks of all colors and a costume with bat-likewings. The term vejigante derives from the word vejiga (bladder) and gigante (giant), due to custom of blowing up and painting cow bladders. The masks are often linked to many festivals that continue today, especially in Loíza and Ponce.
In the 12th century St. James the apostle was believed to lead the Catholic militia to win a battle over the infidel Moors. St. James is the patron saint of Spain and on his saints day, when people celebrated the Victory of St. James over the Moors, the vejigante represented the Moors with whom St. James fought.
Back then, the vejigante symbolized the Devil in the battle between good and evil. This processional in Puerto Rico has taken on a new face because of the African and Taino influence. The Tainos were believed to be excellent mask makers. Vejigante masks are usually meant as “fright” masks.
One of Puerto Rico’s notable exports is its music, which is probably the predominant Caribbean music heard in the United States.
Some of the instruments used in traditional Puerto Rican music originated with the Taíno people. Most noteworthy is the güicharo, or güiro, a notched hollowed-out gourd, which was adapted from pre-Columbian days. The musical traditions of the Spanish and Africans can also be heard in Puerto Rico’s music.
The most popular of these, and one for which greatest number of adaptions and compositions have been written, is the cuatro, a guitar-like instrument with 10 strings (arranged in five different pairs). The name (translated as “the fourth”) is derived from the earlier instrument having four (or four pairs of) strings, but for aims of century 19, around year 1875, already it was custom to make it with five pairs of cords as we know it today.
Also prevalent on the island are such percussion instruments as tambours (hollowed tree trunks covered with stretched-out animal skin), maracas (gourds filled with pebbles or dried beans and mounted on handles), and a variety of drums whose original designs were brought from Africa by the island’s slaves. All these instruments contribute to the rich variety of folk music with roots in the cultural melting pot of the island’s Spanish, African, and Taíno traditions.
Artist’s Facebook Page:
I hope that I have been able to convey, without boring you, why this piece of art is so important … both to the “giver” and the “receiver”. It’s a treasured possession that is priceless to those who know how to value it.
We ALL love ART!!
Puerto Rico, What to expect
We ALL are ONE!!