Cartagena’s favorite bird, and a symbol of the city, the maria mulata. “Mariamulatas, with their piercing songs, announce the arrival of the night”. If you change ‘mariamuatas’ to ‘palenqueras’, (the city’s colourful, Afro-colombian fruit-sellers in flounced skirts, who bawl their wares in loud, emasculating voices, the sentence maes just as much sense.
In this drawing, I have the bird crying the names of fruits, a hybrid of the city’s two noisiest denizens.
The María Mulata is Quiscalus mexicanus, known in other countries as quiscal or zanate, belonging to the family Icteridae, found in warmer climates. The bird is black, has a distinctive, high-pitched and musical song, and is a symbol of the fauna of Colombia.
Colombian artist Enrique Grau imortalised the bird in several public sculptures throughout the country. Of this quirky, cranky, engaging bird, Grau writes,“The Mariamulata is the one that accompanies us from birth, is the one in the courtyards, where the girl sweeping the corridor at the entrance or leaning on the windows watching what you are doing is “