Wednesday, February 23, 2011

illustration friday (layer)

March 3 is Hinamatsuri (Doll's Day Festival) in Japan. Like Setsubun (Bean Scattering Festival), the day marks a junction in the cycle of seasons. On a superficial level it celebrates "girlhood," the way Kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day Festival), on May 5, celebrates "boyhood," but it's actually more complicated than that. There are subtle regional and generational differences in how it is perceived and celebrated. You can read about it on Wikipedia if you like.

I was going to do an etegami for Doll's Day anyway, but when I saw that the IF topic for this week was "layer," I decided to post early. This is because the first image that had popped into my mind was juuni-hitoe, the elegant, many-layered robes that only court ladies wore in Japan in ancient times. And the elegant life of ancient court nobility is what Hinamatsuri is all about.

The etegami shows an image of clam shells dressed up in bits of fabric and paint to represent the emperor and empress dolls that are displayed during the festival in every home that has daughters. Clam shells are "a symbol of a united and peaceful couple, because a pair of clam shells fits perfectly, and no pair but the original pair can do so." (Wiki)

The dots on the forehead are not eyes: they were once a cosmetic indicator of noble rank. The eyes are the slits beneath the dots. The accompanying words are a quote from the popular children's song about the Doll's Day Festival, and translate to: "They sit next to each other with prim looks on their faces."

11 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you commented on my drawing, so that I had the pleasure of finding your blog. Isn't this the very best thing about the Internet? I can draw a typical ol' California artichoke and it's something unusual in your eyes. In turn, I learn about your fascinating etegami. I'll be following your blog!

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  2. Love it! Nice design and colors!

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  3. I'm so glad you left a comment on my website and that I came to visit yours. This was not only enlightening from a cultural standpoint but from a new artistic style as well. I really enjoy what you offer here.

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  4. I'm glad you pointed out about the eyes. My brain keeps switching which are the eyes which are the dots, like one of those optical illusion pics :). Very cute.

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  5. I feel an urge to put dots above my eyes today, but maybe not dressing in so many layers. Nice patterns and colors.

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  6. Beautiful and enlightening, as always! :o)

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  7. There is always so much to learn from your etegamis, even though their beauty alone would be worth the visit!

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  8. Wow--how very interesting! There really are so many layers to this!!

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