Izapa Tree of Life – Stela 5

1:29 pm

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Izapa Stela 5 “Tree of Life” monument. Photo by V. Garth Norman for NWAF 1965. 


Izapa Stela 5 “Tree of Life” monument. RTI photo by Dr. Jason Jones (University of Warwick, England) 2016. 

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 Izapa Tree of Life Stela 5 has: 1) Twelve Roots = ancestral roots; 2) Tree Trunk = Maya World Ages (jagged trunk line); 3) Eight Branches rise to a heavenly realm (VGN 2015: 158–1966 2 Photos above by C Anderson and VG Norman). Today’s Maya refer to original tribes & chiefs as roots and their descendants as branches of a tree. 


Maya Tzotzil Tree – The vision of the world: North = Heaven-Home of the Gods. Earth = Place of the living. South = Roots – Underworld place of the dead (Low, Lee, Martinez 1982).  Cutting down a Tree is a metaphor for death in ancient Mesoamerican traditions. 

Their first ancestors emerged from the underworld to earth through the roots of a giant ceiba world tree. After death the spirit ascends through the branches of the world tree into a heavenly paradise. 


S5-Bab C

Tree of Life monument was designed & created with the Babylonian Cubit “Golden Mandala” from the God’s foot (right of Tree).  The Maya creation story recorded in The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel states, “The Lord, our God the Father measured his footstep. . . .the day, as it was called, was created, heaven and earth were created, the stairway of water, the earth, rocks and trees; the things of the sea and the things of the land were created.” (Roys 1967: 116-117, Notes 10 & 11). 


Maya World Ages recorded on Izapa Stela 5 (from bottom to top): Creation (Movement), Jaguar, Wind, Rain, Water (VGN 2015:165).

Izapa Stela 5 Tree has 12 Roots, a trunk with jogs and cuts and shapes that measure the Maya World Ages. The top has 8 branches.  Left is the Goddess and right the God of the Tree. The Rain cycle begins on the right (east) showing rain falling into the rivers and ocean, then evaporation glyphs on the left (west) bring moisture back to the clouds at the top. The Rain Cycle symbolizes the Human Life Cycle.  The Ancestral Family is seated at the base.

JJ-No. 1. Right Side, 8-21-12, snapshot - Copy - Copy

RTI digital photo of Izapa Stela 5 “Tree of Life” stone. Izapa, Mexico 2016 by Dr. Jason Jones (University of Warwick, England). This digital photo confirms original NWAF photos of 1965, 1966, 1973, 1976 (VGN).

Dr. Jason B. Jones Digital Photo Project 2012-2014: “For the first time, digital three-dimensional (3D) imaging and 3D printing study techniques have been applied to Izapan sculpture. Specifically, the RTI/PTM imaging techniques developed by HP labs and Cultural Heritage Imaging, have provided an unprecedented ability to capture, examine and virtually relight carved relief. The results have shown a surprising amount of detail, which has not been lost to recent decades of weathering, as previously supposed. Above all, these methods have produced a permanent digital record that sets a new standard for documentation clarity, devoid of artistic subjectivity.”

Dr. Jason B. Jones, CEO, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies; Inaugural winner–2015 International Additive Manufacturing Award.

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