Luis Jiménez began developing
his image for the Southwest Pieta by going back to a legend
familiar to him from his childhood in El Paso. Some say that
the story dates back to the Aztecs who lived in Mexico before
the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century.
Others believe it originated during
a romantic period in the 1920s.
There once was a young warrior named
Popocatépetl, [popo-ca-TEH-petal] or Popo, who loved
or Ixta, the daughter of the Aztec emperor. To prove his worth
to her father, Popo went off to war, while Ixta remained faithful
awaiting his return. Meanwhile, an evil rival for the love
of Ixta sent back word to her
that Popo had been killed.
When Popo returned safely from the
war he found that Ixta was dead. When she heard of the death
of her lover, she died of grief during her wedding to the
evil rival who deceived her. In his sorrow, Popo carried Ixta
to the highest mountain, where he grieved for days on end.
In time, the gods took pity on the
tragic lovers and turned them to stone.
In Náhuatl, the language of
the Aztecs, Popocatépetl means Great Smoking Rock.
It is the name of a volcano in the Valley of Mexico.
Ixtaccihautl in Náhuatl
means Sleeping Woman Mountain and is the name of a nearby
mountain also in the Valley of Mexico. Legend has it that
when the volcano, Popo, erupts, he will go to Ixta and awaken
her. At last the lovers will be reunited.