LIGHT & SHADOW
Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza
by Photos by David Alexander Bjorkman • Text by Victoria Thomas
Each Spring Equinox, March 21, some 70,000 people from around the world come to the ancient ceremonial center of Chichen Itza to watch triangles of light and shadow form on the K'uk'ulkan Pyramid and descend from its temple to the ground, with the final triangle illuminating the head of a giant stone serpent.
Photographer David Alexander Bjorkman and writer Victoria Thomas spent five consecutive years at Spring Equinox documenting this spectacle of light and shadow and its affect on people, from the seriously ill hoping for a miracle to the mostly curious, who come to participate in the ritual.
Chichen Itza, in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, has been attracting pilgrims since it was built by the Itza Maya in the 800s. Its 100-foot-tall K'uk'ulkan Pyramid, recognized throughout the world on television and in print, has become the symbol of Pre-Columbian Mexico, and is now designated as one of the Seven Wonders of the New World.
Many people who come to witness the light and shadow spectacle believe it represents the ancient wisdom of the Maya and links the Sun with the pyramid and in turn with those who are present. The ancient Maya believed the cycles of Time repeat, and that this cycle of Time, which began on August 13, 3114 BCE, will come to an end on December 21, 2012 CE. Is this why so many people are once again flocking to Chichen Itza?
Since 1996 photographer David Alexander Bjorkman and writer Victoria Thomas have worked exclusively in the Maya Yucatan region of Mexico documenting the rebuilding of the Maya pyramids at a pace not seen in over a thousand years. They have produced five books, seven photo essays and a Museum Photographic Exhibit documenting the emergence of the 3,000-year-old Maya Ballgame into modern times.
David Bjorkman has worked as a photojournalist and war photographer, magazine art director and book publisher. His photos have been published in more than 20 countries. As a photographer, he has been smuggled across borders at night and survived a chopper being shot out from under him. He has slept on the floor of a Lakota Sioux holy man's house for months while completing a book project. He has been a member of the Explorer's Club and photographed, while on an Explorer's Club expedition into the Darien jungle of Panama, the Choco Indian chief who taught jungle survival to the original U.S. Apollo astronauts. An avid Mayanist who has published six books on the topic, he has led tours to the Maya Yucatan region of Mexico, and scoured jungles for hidden pyramids. He holds an MFA degree from the University of Colorado, and has been a fine arts instructor and an artist whose work is held in private collections in the U.S and Europe, and has been exhibited in both galleries and museums.
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