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TOTEM LATAMAT arrives at Manchester Museum

22 Oct 2021

An important piece of Indigenous art has arrived at Manchester Museum as part of its epic journey to COP26

Totem at Manchester

TOTEM LATAMAT is a message from the Totonac people, indigenous to Mexico, to emphasise how interwoven their existence is with nature and the need for immediate action in the face of the climate crisis. "Latamat" means "life" in Tutunakú.

The artwork is cut from a single cedar tree and stands at an impressive 4.5m tall. It is travelling 9,000km from Mexico to the UK by ship, visiting a range of locations in the UK, including Manchester, before it finally arrives in Glasgow in time for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).  

Commissioned by Origins and carved by Indigenous Totonac artist Jun Tiburcio, TOTEM LATAMAT will be available to visit outside Manchester Museum at University Place until 24 October.

COP26 is due to highlight the crucial role of Indigenous people and local communities in responding to the climate emergency, and giving them a voice that has often been obscured by colonisation.

Artist Jun Tiburcio said: “For the Totonac people, birds are our messengers. In the totem, they tell us that we must take care of all life.

“At the top of the totem are hummingbirds, representing the aspiration for a new consciousness: they are messengers of peace between humans and nature.

“The face on the reverse represents the state of emergency in the world. We are so close to reaching the peak of this crisis and the raised arms of the Totonac culture represent the balance that we must find in the mind and the heart.

“We need to act quickly to care for the world through prayers, thoughts, connections, and laws.”