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Photography Cuzán

“Maquech, you are a man, hear my heartbeat, you will live here always. I have sworn the gods to never forget you.”. And she added: “Maquech, the gods have never known a love as intense and alive as this which consumes my soul.”

About this work

I was inspired to make this artwork by the Mayan Legend of The Princess and the Beetle. The story tells of a beautiful princess whose hair resembles the wings of a swallow. Because of this, she was called Cuzán, the Mayan word for bird.

When Cuzán was old enough to marry, her father arranged a union with Prince Ek Chapat, future ruler of the Kingdom of Nan Chan. But one day, when the princess went to thank her father for treasures acquired from a recent war, her father was accompanied by a handsome young man named Chalpol, meaning Red Head, because his hair was colored like fire.

From that moment on, their souls were trapped in a bond of fire. They swore to never forget each other, and they passionately pledged their love under the sacred Ceiba tree, where the gods heard their mortal oaths.

When her father found out that Chalpol was his daughter’s lover, he ordered him to be put to death. Cuzán fiercely begged her father not to kill him, promising she would marry Ek Chapat and would never see Chalpol again if only he was spared from death.

During the silence of the nights, Cuzán was ordered to present herself to Halach, the father of Ek Chapat and ruler of the kingdom. After consulting with his priests, he agreed not to kill Chalpol, but the priests transformed him into a beetle (called ‘Maquech’) as punishment.

She then ordered the best jeweler of the kingdom to encrust him with precious stones and tied him up with a little chain around her neck. This way she could always carry him close to her heart.

  • Art-Direction/Photography: Jonas Leriche
  • Make-up: Tom Vandewalle
  • Model: Anonymous
  • Behind The Scenes Photography: Caro Leriche