Sunday, January 7, 2018

TATTOO: Interconnectedness between Cretaceous Past and Our Present

DINOSAUR-RHEA JANUS TATTOO. I created this image as a tattoo for  a fictional Argentine ichnologist, created by my dear boon companion, Tony Martin in his work-in-progress. The tattoo incorporates the head of a Cretaceous theropod dinosaur and that of an extant rhea, a large ostrich-like bird that roams the Argentine pampas in the same places where dinosaur fossils are found. The image has been stylized to reflect some aspects of the art of the indigenous people who inhabited the lands that are now Argentina. Art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter
Happy New Year! Welcome 2018 and all that we have to discover in the upcoming months!

Hallelujah for travel both geographically and in time! Hallelujah for the imagination that allows us to take the present and past and merge them together to either tell a story or create an image!

The above image is an amalgam of ideas past and present. I created it as a tattoo for a female Argentine paleontologist protagonist in Tony Martin’s current work-in-progress (more to be revealed at a later date).

How appropriate that I would create a “Janus”-like figure at the beginning of 2018 and in the month of “January.” As a god of motion and change, Janus represents beginnings, passages, and duality.

The tattoo combines the head of a birdlike dinosaur from the Cretaceous (looking to the past) with the forward-looking head of a rhea, a large Argentine flightless bird (similar to an ostrich) that roams freely on the pampas. Their shared evolutionary ancestry is represented by one large foot that could be both dinosaurian or avian. The foot is important since Tony’s character is an ichnologist, one who interprets behavior in the past from fossils including tracks.

The spiral at the animals’ heart center is a reminder of “deep time” and the interconnectedness of these creatures throughout evolutionary time.

PALEONTOGIST WITH ARGENTINIAN DINOSAURS. Here Tony Martin "becomes" a dinosaur as we waited for opening hours at  Plaza Huincul’s Museo Municipal Carmen Funes. For the tattoo image, I  used the profile of the dinosaur's head to the left of Tony. Notice how bird-like these dinosaurs are!  Photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter
One of the reasons that Tony and I went to Argentina during the winter break this past December was to explore and visit some of the paleontological riches of this South American country. We also wanted to understand both its indigenous and European culture.

Thanks to our Argentine friends - paleontological colleagues of Tony’s - we learned about the Aguada people who lived in northwest Argentina from 700-1000 and the motifs they used on their daily lives.
IMAGES FROM THE AGUADA CULTURE. These images were shown to me on my first day in Argentina by Diana Elizabeth Fernandez in response to my questions about rheas and the imagery of the indigenous people of Argentina. These ancient people called this large flightless bird a "suri."
Therefore, my tattoo image is informed by the imagery offered to me by Diana Elizabeth Fernandez, who is both an ichnologist and daughter of a anthropologist/ethnographer working with content related to these ancient Argentine people. I also incorporated other ideas I found as I searched Aguada images on the Internet, like the image below, which offered me the concept of Janus (cannot find the source, my apologies).

This tattoo image may evolve, just as Tony's work-in-progress is evolving. I will remain open to refining it. For now I am satisfied and so happy for the opportunity to collaborate with the imagination of my husband. Our shared life brings us great adventure and joy.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Diana Elizabeth Fernandez for her close listening to what Tony Martin and I were searching for during our visit to Argentina. We could not have had a better friend, colleague, or assistant in helping us locate images, understand Argentinian culture, and navigate the transportation system or Spanish language.


  1. The Argentinian art is so much like our Southwest indigenous art.I love the looking back/looking forward and the shared foot.And the spiral connecting them. And all the texturing. Last night with a friend we were looking at images of Harpy eagles, which I got to see in Belize (in an aviary- not in the wild ). They are massive birds built for catching monkeys in the jungle. Google their images and check out their feet. The aviary was built so that we could be on the same level looking at this amazing creature 15-20 ft away. I remember being blown away by his talons.

  2. Joy! I welcome your thoughtful comment. Thank you for taking the time to let me know you read my blog post and for sharing the information about your own experience. I will look at the Harpy eagles and examine their feet. I love finding connections.

  3. Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also The Tattoo