Kristy McCarthy


Ancestral Street


Ancestral Street

Painted for #ancestralstreet festival in Santo Domingo de las Tsáchilas, Ecuador. A visual interpretation of the legend of how the Tsáchila people, who are known to be extremely connected to nature and hold the secrets of the forest, came to use the achiote plant as a natural protection against the diseases brought over by the Spanish colonizers. Legend has it that a Tsáchila shaman asked for help from the spirits to protect the people from the yellow fever and small pox epidemics that were devastating the native people, he entered into the spirit of the condor and was guided to the achiote Bush. The people covered their bodies in the red pigment from the seeds, protecting them from the diseases and saving them from near extinction. The spirit in this interpretation is a #hummingbird, which is the official symbol of Santo Domingo, a pollinator, and is pictured on the state flag flying over the sun. Today, Tsachila men honor the achiote plant and it's curative powers by using the pigment to die their hair and form it into a representation of the red achiote pods, elder shamans also use cotton along with the achiote to form their hair into a representation of the condor. For this reason, mestizo Ecuadorians have called them the Colorados ("the red people"). Aersol and Lates. 2017