madre de agua

madre de agua


Madre de Agua Fountain. Wood-fired earthenware, partially glazed, copper pipes. 19-1/2 x 19-1/2 x 19", Made in Colombia in 2016.

This fountain was built for the nineteenth century coffee hacienda at Campos de Gutiérrez and it signals whether the crops have proper irrigation.  Madre de Agua [Mother of Water] is a Colombian myth about a wandering entity that lures children astray and towards the water. According to the myth, her feet are bent backwards, misleading anybody who tries to track her footsteps when a child goes missing.

Made in situ, the fountain was built with clay sourced in the homestead with no additives. The glaze was also made from local materials.  The motifs feature Quimbaya figures and endemic fauna and flora, including the Farlowella Yarigui fish discovered in 2015.

Legend tells she was a white creole girl who fell in love with a captive man. He was a cacique who was captured and held hostage by her father during a raid for gold. Indignant and rebellious by her father’s cruelty, she helped the chief escape and followed him to a secret village of his domain. She learned Chibcha and became a powerful figure as she gave birth to the only child of the cacique. It wasn’t easy for her to live in exile but this was undoubtedly the happiest time of her life. A short-lived happiness however, for a traitor woman, impelled by jealousy, informed her father of their whereabouts. The tribe was ambushed, the chief was tortured to death, and the mestizo newborn was flung into a river from the heights of a waterfall.

Crazed and in despair, she jumped into the falls.


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