In life drawing, we were given two final assignments. The first was to create a negative space of a person, detailing the background. He said to fill it with something that told a little about ourselves.
I really like henna, so that's where I started. I figured if I was going to focus on a women's art style from India, I should see if there was a goddess that I identified with. And I came across Durga, a warrior goddess who embodies feminine strength, energy and creative focus. Sounded -perfect- for this assignment!
So I started researching her. Originally, I was just going to fill the background with henna designs, but a chance comment from my instructor when he saw my research led me to decide to fill the background with hands-- in part because Durga is a multi-hand goddess, and in part because henna belongs on hands.
I started with her mounts:
She primarily rides a lion or tiger , but she is also known to ride a ox or bull in her incarnation as Shailputri. Beneath the feat of her mount is her Durga Yantra: a triangular symbol that represents the union of wisdom and compassion, meant to bestow good luck, health, and victory over enemies.
In one hand, she holds a lotus, symbolizing the certainty of success, but not the finality of it. It also represents continuous spiritual evolution in a world of greed and lust.
In another hand, she holds the "Sudarshan-Chakra", the beautiful discus, representing cosmic harmony and that the entire world is subject to her will and command. She uses it to destroy evil and create an environment that promotes righteousness.
In another hand, she holds a sword (That's what's vanishing behind her bottom knee.) and symbolizes knowledge. In another hand, she holds a spear, that was used to slay the demon Mahisha. In another hand, she holds a noose (that's on the far left at the end of her foot), that was used to capture Mahisha in his demon-buffalo form.
In another hand, she holds the conch shell, symbolizing 'pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which is symbolic of the sound of the Supreme Brahman and used to declare battle. In another hand, she holds the Vajra, Lord Indra's thunderbolt, that symbolizes strength and focus.
Durga is often said to have a golden countenance and is often called the three eyed Goddess. On the three hands that surround her face, I've drawn what each eye represents.
Her right eye represents action, in the shape of the sun. Her left eye represents desire, in the shape of the moon. And the central eye represents knowledge in the form of fire. On the same hand that holds the moon, there is also her bow and arrow, that symbolize her control over both potential and kinetic energy.
And the negative shape is a Durga dancer representing Durga with her trident, which has 3 symbols-- inactivity, activity and non-activity and represent Durga as the remover of all 3 miseries;; physical, mental and spiritual. As my friend Zhara said when she saw it, "She is all things and nothing when she dances."
All in all, I'm -very- pleased with the finished piece. This will definitely be getting framed and put up in the house (: