“The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology”

Mario Toral

A Chilean artist who works internationally. His work explores a plethora of artistic techniques and languages, from engraving to short films, easel painting and mural painting. In addition to his constant interest in contemporary plastic techniques and theories, Toral’s work focuses on the representation of both national identity based on collective memory, as well as individuality and the existential problems of contemporary humans.

Recovering historical memory: “The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology”

The work “The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology” in our permanent collection is a preparatory oil painting that the artist Mario Toral created for his great mural work “A Visual Memory of a Nation”.

Both in “The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology” and throughout his mural work, Toral seeks to recover a collective memory where all peoples feel identified. To do this, he represents historical facts, geography, local mythology and characters, such as indigenous heroes, presidents and poets. It is a journey from the origins, through the pre-Hispanic past, the conquest, the creation of a Republic State until the present day and modernity.


“A Visual Memory of a Nation”

The mural project “A Visual Memory of a Nation” is part of the MetroArte initiative, which aims to bring art closer to citizens by placing murals in places of transit such as metro stations. Other artists who have participated in the creation of murals within this project include Roberto Matta, Rodolfo Opazo, Osvaldo Peña, Hernán Miranda and Elisa Aguirre, with a total of 54 murals painted by individual and collective artists.

This mural by Mario Toral is located in the University of Chile metro station, right in the city centre. It covers 1,200 m2 and has six panels in total, where the artist distinguishes between Past and Present. Each of these parts includes three panels with different scenes alluding to the history and the collective imagination of the moment.

“The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology” has been placed within the “Ancient Settlers” panel. Alongside it, “The Meeting” and “The Conquest” complete the first part of the mural entitled “The Past”. Each panel is in turn divided into more scenes, within which the scene represented in “The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology” is of particular note


According to the Mapuche mythology and Toral’s words: 

“The world was created and destroyed by two snakes: MaiMai and TenTen. The head of God Pillan, God of Volcanoes and of Fire, observes. He is a benevolent God that protects humanity (…) A stone figure represents the Mapuche warrior, war being the noblest activity of the race. He has a representation of a bludgeon, a bone or stone object, symbol of the investiture of the Toqui or the chief. There are scenes of daily life, bodies in a river, cacti, shells”.  

Mario Toral, 2002.
Memoria Visual de una Nación [A Visual Memory of a Nation]

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ANDRADE B., Pablo, BÁEZ B. Rolando, MELLADO G. Leonardo, Mario Toral : Memoria Visual de una Nación (Los Conflictos). Museo Histórico Nacional. ISBN: 978-956-7297-42-9

GODOY, Carmen Gloria. “Memoria Visual de una Nación: la identidad revisitada” (2007). Revista Chilena de Antropología Visual, num. 9, pp. 120-144. ISSN-e 0717-876X. Disponible en: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=6496840&orden=0&info=link [consulta: 26/05/2022]