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Jay Mohler and the Ojos de Dios: "Mandalas” of Western Traditional Culture

posted Oct 4, 2011, 9:52 AM by Annalisa Ippolito   [ updated Oct 4, 2011, 3:05 PM ]
Jay Mohler is an artist of Ojos de Dios a very special traditional handcraft made by Native American people.

I saw his amazing pieces of art and I emailed him some question about his art, his experience with Ojos de Dios, that we can consider "Mandalas” of Western Traditional Culture.

Annalisa Ippolito: Hi Jay, could you share some words about the meaning of “Ojos De Dios”?

Jay Mohler : “Ojos de Dios” is Spanish for *Eye of God”, and can be thought of as a prayer that can be hung on your wall, reminding us both that we can see God in our daily lives, and that God is watching over us.

AWhat is an Ojos the Dios?

J: An Ojo de Dios is yarn hand woven onto crossed sticks into interlocking geometric patterns, as a wall-hanging.  More specifically, such designs were originally made by various North and South American Indian tribes.

ACould we call it like a Mandala of Western Traditional American Culture?

J: In the original Sanskrit, "mandala" mean "circle", or artwork in the form of a circle.  Carl Young wrote a book on mandalas, and talked about "the change of a circle into a square".  In Buddhist terms, a Mandala is a form of sacred artwork that is meant to still the mind.  An Ojo de Dios can be all of these things. 

ADo you remember when you saw an Ojo de Dios for the first time?

J: I first saw an Ojo de Dios for sale in a stand of Huichol herbs and artifacts in the Guadalajara, Mexico, Marketplace in 1966.  I was instantly fascinated, and later bought two or three to give as gifts.

AWhen did you start to create Ojos de Dios?

J: Later in the same year, 1966, I went to an exhibit of sacred artifacts sent to the USA by the Dalai Lama of Tibet, where one artifact was made up of 4 faces, with any one of those four walls, or faces, was, to me at least, exactly the same as the Ojos de Dios I had purchased in Mexico.   Soon after this I started creating Ojos de Dios, at first following this pattern.  A couple of years later I started making simplified ojos to sell to gift shops in southern California.   

AWhere do you find the inspiration for your creation?

J: Always I am drawing inspiration from the first ojos that I saw, and now also from the colors and patterns I see in nature; especially natural landscapes, flowers and artwork of the American Southwest.

ADo you following some sacred rules or are you free to use your fantasy?

J: I feel free to follow my own fancy and intuition; but I do stick with crossed sticks and yarn as my materials, and with keeping my patterns basically symetrical.

ACould you give me some details about the process of creation?

J: You can find a great amount of detail about how I make my creations on my website, Ojos-de-Dios.com, or, with newer photographs, on the etsy.com how-Tuesday blog for September 13, 2011

AWhat kind of materials do you need to make an Ojos de Dios?

J: I use doweling from lumber supply places for sticks, and all wool yarns that I buy mostly over the internet.  Many kinds of sticks and yarn can be used, however.

AHow much time you need to create a Ojos de Dios?

J: Simple ojos can be made in a few minutes.  Very large and complex ojos might take a week or more, and every length of time in between is possible. 

ADo you find prejudices about the Ojos de Dios?

J: In spite of the Native American origin, simple forms of ojos are commonly made in Sunday school classes, by Girl Scout troops, ets.,, such that I've never seen any prejudice against them.

AWould you share with us what are your plans for the future?

J: A very important plan in my future is to help organize an International Festival of Ojos de Dios, to be held in Pune, India, in the fall of 2012.  I also hope to start holding more workshops, both here in the USA, and when I next visit India, 2012.

AMany thanks to share with us your experience

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