L’itoi – the man in the maze.

L’itoi – the man in the maze.

The three images above are titled L’itoi, the man in the maze. They are a continuation of the work I have been doing with cast shadows and little figures.

L’itoi is a deity from an O’odham (Native American Indian) tribe based in the Southwest US). He features in their oral history as a good spirited creator god. Alfretta Antone was a key figure in achieving the repatriation of land back to her tribe and a passionate supporter of the O’odham way of life. She told the following story during a recorded oral history:

“Elder Brother lived in the maze … and the reason why he lived in the maze was because … I think how I’m gonna say this … magician or oh, medicine man that can disappear, and that can do things, heal people and things like that … that was Elder Brother … Se:he … they called him … he lived in there … but he had a lot of enemies so he made that, and to live in there people would go in there but they couldn’t find him … they would turn around and go back.

But in real life … when you look at the maze you start from the top and go into the maze … your life, you go down and then you reach a place where you have to turn around … maybe in your own life you fall, something happens in your home, you are sad, you pick yourself up and you go on through the maze … you go on and on and on … so many places in there you might … maybe your child died … or maybe somebody died, or you stop, you fall and you feel bad … you get up, turn around and go again … when you reach that middle of th@e maze … that’s when you see the Sun God and the Sun God blesses you and say you have made it … that’s where you die.

The maze is a symbol of life … happiness, sadness … and you reach your goal … there’s a dream there, and you reach that dream when you get to the middle of the maze … that’s how I was told, my grandparents told me that’s how the maze is. ”

http://www.popflock.com/learn?s=I%27itoi [Accessed 8th February 2019]

L’itoi can be seen in their petroglyphs standing at the mouth of a labyrinth. He is woven into baskets and forged into rings. Interestingly the weavers include a mistake in every basket, known as a dau (a door) to allow the spirit of the basket can be released. Not unlike elements of Japanese Shinto, another tradition that acknowledges the spirit that can exist in objects.

A handwoven basket by Tonhono O Odham tribe.