Alright so I’ve seen a lot of discussion on Sugilite’s character design, and I’ve mostly seem comparisons to gorillas (or the great ape from Dragon Ball Z), tarantulas and foo dogs. And I do agree that she does share certain characteristics with all of them. But there is actually one very obvious one that I have seen no one bring up, and I think it is actually a very important one to be considering.
I took a World Religions course in grade 11, and happened to learn about this:
Looks a bit familiar, doesn’t she?
That lovely and most terrifying woman you see is Kali, wife of Shiva the Destroyer, and an important Goddess in the Hindu religion. And here is an excerpt from Encyclopedia Britannica in regards to this particular deity (I’ll be bolding the important bits):
Kali, ( Sanskrit: “She Who Is Black” or “She Who is Death”) in Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death, or the black goddess (the feminine form of Sanskrit kala, “time-doomsday-death,” or “black”). Kali’s iconography, cult, and mythology commonly associate her with death, sexuality, violence, and, paradoxically in some later traditions, with motherly love. Although depicted in many forms throughout South Asia (and now much of the world), Kali is most often characterized as black or blue, partially or completely naked, with a long lolling tongue, multiple arms, a skirt or girdle of human arms, a necklace of decapitated heads, and a decapitated head in one of her hands. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her husband, the god Shiva, who lies prostrate beneath her.
Now then, lets go point for point. Is Sugilite’s skin/hair black or blue (or purple in this case)? Yes. Did Garnet and Amethyst’s fusion dance have… suggestive undertones? Most certainly. Was she violent? Boy was she. Her clothes ripped and in some parts revealing? Yup. Multiple arms? Most certainly. And while the paragraph doesn’t point this out specifically, both Sugilite and Kali have a long black bush of hair at the back, and both have wicked evil looking grins. In addition, while I don’t think Kali has an eye in the middle of her forehead, she does have something I can’t quite make out and don’t remember the name of, but it can clearly be connected to the eye in the middle of Sugilite’s forehead.
And, from another source here, we have this excerpt.
Kali is the fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess. She assumed the form of a powerful goddess and became popular with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya, a text of the 5th - 6th century AD. Here she is depicted as having born from the brow of Goddess Durga during one of her battles with the evil forces. As the legend goes, in the battle, Kali was so much involved in the killing spree that she got carried away and began destroying everything in sight. To stop her, Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet. Shocked at this sight, Kali stuck out her tongue in astonishment, and put an end to her homicidal rampage. Hence the common image of Kali shows her in her mêlée mood, standing with one foot on Shiva’s chest, with her enormous tongue stuck out.
Did Sugilite, originally formed to help forces of good (in this case, saving television), eventually lose control of herself and start “destroying everything in sight”? Very evidently. But seeing as there was no Shiva counterpart, nothing could’ve placated Sugilite, and the next best option was to have Pearl face her in line with the episode’s moral.
Taking into further account that Opal was very clearly inspired by a Hindu goddess, I’m pretty much certain Sugilite was based off of Kali, with a face intended to resemble a foo dog. This makes Sugilite’s design a combination of a Chinese cultural symbol and a Hindu mythological deity. The fact that SU takes the time to incorporate these things into its art and story really makes me happy.
The more you know.