Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Inspiration from the East

Today, I thought I might do what I said I would in my first entry, share what inspires me. As of late, I have become increasingly interested in Eastern cultures. It all began with a little girl who resembled the goddess Lakshmi.

For those of you who have not seen this phenomenon, a little girl was born in India with a striking resemblance to the Hindu goddess of luck and beauty, Lakshmi. Why a phenomenon, you ask? The Goddess Lakshmi is generally portrayed with eight limbs, four arms and four legs. The mother had prayed to that particular goddess on the day Lakshmi (the baby girl) was born and had seen a sign, so thought the resemblance no coincidence. People would travel to come see the young goddess, to offer gifts and lay hands on her.

**Photo from website www.dailymail.co.uk

For those of you who are skeptical, this is not just a doctored photo. I saw this story on a TV show, where she was picked up, held and put down, and shown from all angles. Of course, there was a medical explanation for the extra limbs. Lakshmi's identical sister had been joined to her at the pelvis in the womb. The condition would have been life-threatening later on, so the child underwent surgery and is believed to be doing well.

My interest was really sparked by this goddess with eight limbs. What imagination! I began recalling stories I had been told from India, and remembering the beautiful artwork that accompanies most of them. I thought this would be wonderful inspiration, so I bought a book on the culture, rented movies based in the area, and have been googling related topics ever since.

Everything that I have seen so far has been amazing. I'm positive that you've heard of The Namesake, and if you have not seen it I do recommend it. Another film that I stumbled across and cannot wait until it reaches me from Netflix is called Water. It's about an eight-year-old girl whose husband (arranged marriage) died, and she is forced to spend the rest of her days in a Hindu temple for widows. Quite negative, but when you go to research a culture, you are bound to find faults.

The imagery that I have has all shown incredible intricacy and beauty, and the patterns involved really add a great touch. I like looking at the patterns used in Henna designs, and anything spiritual will always give inspiration. One type of image that I discovered that I had not known before is called Rangoli. Rangoli is one of the most popular artforms in India, made of colored sand/rice powder and often found outside homes or religious places. It is sort of a blessing, and patterns are often passed down through families. This particular Rangoli design really stopped me. It is for a festival called Diwali, and is much more extravagant than the everyday Rangoli.

**Photo from buckofive Flickr photostream

Anyway, for those of you seeking new inspiration, I'm telling you, this is the answer. The color usage, patterns, and style of illustrations from India and other Eastern countries are sure to inspire you. Google Rangoli, Henna designs, and Hindu gods/goddesses, and just see where it takes you. Best of luck!

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