top of page

TALES OF NIWA

Tales of Niwa is a clay sculpture project, later patinated, accompanied by science fiction stories. Niwa is a world of multiple cultures, races and mythologies, all of them inspired by the real world, but intertwined in the most unexpected ways, as they are all descended in some way from the mysterious island of the same name. The concept behind the Tales of Niwa project is to explore this fictional world, through sculpture accompanied by stories, where the figures of king, hero, god and demon are just but pieces of the same concept. For this reason, in Niwa it is said that you can know a person depending on who they pray, admire or worship.

Chapter I: Nylheim

Tales of Niwa begins with Chapter I: Nylheim. This first series introduces us to the universe of Niwa, which we will discover in this first chapter and the following ones, through the combination of sculptures and short tales. In this first chapter we will discover Nylheim, the first stronghold of Otherworld, through three busts (in order of production: Wise Wotan, Figther Donnar and Prophet Lah'ki) and a short story that mixes art with other more terrifying capabilities of the human being, such as colonization, brutality and conflict. The three busts will be modeled in white clay and painted with acrylic patina and pigments. The objective of the pieces, especially their patinas, is to achieve a color and texture that evoke ancestral techniques and materials, in accordance with the short story.

The westernmost point of Otherworld, washed on its western shores by the unpredictable Sea of Storms and protected on its easternmost side by the depressions of the Grand Canyon, is known to its settler gods as Nylheim. Revealed to the wise Wotan, the All-Father, by the prophet Lah'ki as the promised land across the sea, Nylheim became a second chance for the æsir after the devastation of their homeland during Ragnarok.
The æsir family landed at Cape Discovery, the easternmost point of Nylheim, more than six centuries ago after a long journey across the Great Blue in their rugged longships. The natives of the promised land welcomed the colonist gods with open arms, treating them like royalty upon their arrival. For days the æsir and the inquisitive Lah'ki learned their ways and enjoyed their hospitality, but the peace and quiet were short-lived. The warrior spirit of the æsir did not support for long that life of comfort and communion with nature that the natives offered them, and hostilities soon began to break out. Donnar, known to his people as the Fighter, and firstborn of the All-Father, was the first to spark the conflict; After hunting a couple of bison, sacred animals for the natives, they wanted to arrest him, but they had to let him go after beating four of their strongest warriors to death. Lah'ki managed to mediate with the village chief, and convinced the æsir to settle a few miles from the village, near the Great Blue Lakes.

Thinking that distance would appease the æsir's thirst for conflict, Lah'ki gave himself up to the contemplative life. Applying the techniques he had learned from the natives in his days in the village, he practiced in the arts of clay modeling. The rivers that originated in the great rocky mountains of the north and that flowed through the imposing canyons to the great lakes loaded rich minerals, suitable for creating all kinds of pigments that gave color to the works that, with patience, he was finishing. While Lah'ki immortalized the æsir family in clay, they had other plans far from art and the quiet life in those green meadows.

Wotan organized a dinner to celebrate the first summer solstice in the new lands and to honor his son Balder, who fell during Ragnarok. Around the fire all the æsir shared jars of mead, a recipe they had perfected since their arrival in the new world. After several hours of celebration, that drink took its toll on the always vivacious Lah'ki, who fell asleep while he listened, like bells growing farther away, to the laughter of the burly Donnar. He woke up late in the morning with a severe headache, and though he struggled to get to his feet, the silence in the camp made him wake up quickly. There was no one there, not a soul, which alerted him and he woke up completely. Searching the modest halls of the father of the æsir, and finding them empty, he hurried to the stables, only to discover a row of hoofprints leading north. He ran until he was out of breath, and discovered the extensive empty prairies, something totally unusual, since several herds of bison had populated them since the beginning of spring. The tracks of the beasts and the horses gave away his whereabouts, the Grand Canyon, a few miles away.
On the way he found his mare Mai, still scared, with her reins broken. They clearly didn't want me to follow them. When Lah'ki and his mount reached the top of the gorge carved out by the Red River, his eyes did not believe the sight they saw. Thousands of dead bison, thrown off the cliff, littered the lower tier of the Grand Canyon. In the distance, the æsir rode on their mounts, leaving behind several corpses of natives and their horses. Lah'ki urged his beloved mare along the paths that led to the Grand Canyon plains. The vision of the plain with the dead bison, beginning to be devoured by vultures and flies, was overshadowed by that of a man he knew very well, ripped open through the spine with one hand tied to some kind of makeshift and crude wooden cross, and a severed arm hanging from his neck. He was Tyr, one of the sons of Wotan, Donnar's younger brother, and the most reasonable of the æsir. His ribs were open, so that they looked like blood-stained wings, and his lungs rested grimly on his shoulder. His last words marked Lah'ki forever: "Stay away, they have no salvation." At that moment, after several months of doubts, Lah'ki realized that those people, whom he had so naively saved from their end in his homelandduring Ragnarok, carried war in their veins. He remounted his mare Mai and headed east, following in the footsteps of the æsir, with his ideas much clearer now.

Not much is known about Lah'ki today. The National Museum of the Island of Niwa (NMIN) houses the busts that Lah'ki is said to have sculpted centuries ago on the great plains beyond the Sea of Storms. Many scholars visit it annually to venerate them, and only a few whisper that Lah'ki's children still live among us. But that's another story, for another time.

Text reconstructed, adapted and translated from the original manuscript by Z'in Toraisei

Niwa Island, National Museum of the Island of Niwa (NMIN), Archive NY. 213-7

bottom of page