Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project Complete: Nagas and Ragas

All done!  It needs some music, so click here.

I decided on a chain of spliced elements, including four beautiful primitive wire beads, about 75 years old, from Madhya Pradesh, found at Audrey Forcier's The Curious Bead on Etsy, where you can find authentic ethnic treasures that are no longer easily found anywhere else.  Audrey is a supportive seller, too: my beads came quickly with a note telling me about them.  I mean, well, Madhya Pradesh!  That's gravitas, and I love it.

So, this does celebrate Year of the Snake, but it also celebrates the deep metaphorical value of Snake in human culture. Look up the nagas, who are snake beings, one of whom protected Lord Buddha from a great storm as he meditated, spreading its seven hoods as an umbrella against torrential rain and winds. In First Nations mythology, Rattlesnake obtained his rattles when a truce was stricken with Man, so that Man may be warned before a poisonous encounter and avoid stepping on his brother who slithers on the ground. And any herpetologist would tell you that snakes should not be reviled but valued, even loved for the environmental tasks they perform.  I was lucky enough to handle a python once and found its feel to be silky, not cold and slimy. You just have to have an open mind.

So I have used repurposed chain segments, with deep patina, and the Madhya Pradesh links, to evoke the sense of an old tribal amulet, with a ragged wisp of red silk to remind us that snakes are not slimy, that they are in fact sacred.

I added a copper eyelet from which are suspended a wonderfully rusted strongbox key and a red beach pebble, on steel links.

And because I remember admiring my grandmother's silver ware that had a pattern on the back of the handle, enjoying something that was just a little hidden, I've finished the back with another snake, in negative space.

The fastener is hand wrought steel, and just above the pendant, because things at the back of the neck can be scratchy, but I also like to see the curve of the hook echoing the snake and functioning as an element of the assembly.

"This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create. The Snake is the sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 Animal Signs. It is the enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animals Signs. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve."