Monday, December 12, 2016

Twentieth Leaf on the World Tree: Bambara Bani (Silk Cotton Tree)

I had a difficult time deciding which tree I wanted to use for this one.  I originally considered the Balanza tree, as it features in the Bambara creation stories-- but it also tends to be considered a tree of misfortune and death, and I don't like the idea of the mixed message.

So I thought about bringing my selection into the present day, and came across the Gliricidia "fertilizer tree", which is a non-native tree that is being used to help fertilize and revitalize modern farm land.

I researched endemic trees to Mali,  I like that African Custard Apple and Hanza are both native, edible, with versatile uses, and support sustainable land care.  And that mahogany is the traditional wood chosen for many of the sculptures and masks.

I even considered the Bambara Groundnut, which is a staple legume, though millet is the primary crop.

Then I came across several references for the Bana tree, but the initial research didn't suggest a particular tree-- more a tree used for ceremonies related to ancestors, which led me to the kapok tree.  The Kapok is suggested to be a symbol of the soul-- but each reference tends to come back to the same single source, and none of these references are African.  Also the kapok originated in South America.

Then I stumbled across the Bani, meaning silk cotton tree, which is symbolic of the ancestors and the path between life and death.  Finding the scientific name Ceiba guineensis (a variety that IS native to Africa) indicated that all 3: Bana, Bani, and Kapok are all the same tree.  Once I discovered that the Bambara also live on a river with the same Bani name, I knew which tree I wanted to use.

I also thought I'd do progress pictures, as I haven't done that in a while (:

The background is already composed of 4 layers of paint.  After drawing my Silk Cotton Tree, I started to outline in my white.

Entirely outlines, including the leaves that come from off the side.

Filling it in the first time.  I'm using my 5/0 paint brush.

Capturing the difference in layers.  By the time I've finished going over it in white, there are 9 layers of paint on this little 3" x  3" space.

Practically done.  But it still needs the final touches:

Did you notice?  It's the single line outline to differentiate the edge of the white from the edge of the color around it.  Even on the edge.

Leading to the final piece:

"Leaves on the World Tree: Bambara Bani"
by Janin Wise
3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas

Prints and other merchandise available at my society6 store

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