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Miguel Covarrubias

>At the time of Mule and Men's publication, the illustrator of the text, Miguel Covarrubias, had already acquired much renown and it is his illustrations perhaps more than the text itself that first validated the work.

Miguel Covarrubias was born in Mexico City in 1904. His father was a civil engineer who worked for Porfino Diaz,the president of Mexico at the time.Although Covarrubias dropped out of school at the age of fourteen he received his earliest commission from his father when he began to draw maps.

Although he received little formal training like Hurston he too had many occupations. During his life he worked as a painter, writer,caroonist, theatre designer, print maker, teacher and anthropologist.

In 1923 he went to New York City on a Government scholarship after his caricatures appeared in Vanity Fair and Fortune Magazines. In 1925 he published a collection of his caricatures entitled "The Prince of Wales and other Famous Americans."

Like Hurston, Covarrubias was interested in the study of other cultures and from 1930 to 1933 he traveled to Bali, India, Vietnam and Africa on a grant from the Guggenheim Institute.

In 1930 Covarrubias met and married Rosa Rolanda an artist and photographer in her own right.

In 1937 he began his writing career with the publication of Island of Bali. In 1946 he published Mexico South, in 1954 The Eagle and the Serpent, and in 1957 The Indian Art of Mexico and Central America.

As part of the Golden Gate International Exposition he painted two mural maps depicting the cultures of the Pacific. He died in Mexico on February 4, 1957.

The Illustrations of Mules and Men

Although many of the illustrations of the text prove generic and not useful in terms of interpreting the text. Overall the working class aesthetic redeemed by the words of the text, finds equal treatment in the images of the text. Like Hurston's characters, Covarrubias subjects laugh, love and fight.

Echoing Hurston's emphasis on African American spirituality, a majority of Covarrubias illustrations take faith as thier subject matter.


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The Fight Scene Chapter 10

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Illustration of Sermon:"Behold the Rib"


Of all the illustrations, those that appear in the section entitled "Hoodoo" prove the most insightful. In one memorable illustration Covarrubias depicts Hurston as she lies on a snakeskin for three days in order to become Turner's initiate.

This image accurately depicts Hurston as she attempts to find her "Hoodoo" with the help of nothing but a glass of water and her naked body.

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Hurston The Initiate

The scope of Covarrubias work as well as his connections among notable artists like Carl Van Vechten, Hurston, Langston Hughes, and others necessitates a fuller and more detailed study of his work. The point of this section was merely to give a glimpse of Covarrubias contribution to the text and provide some samples of his work.






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