Illustration based on The Queen’s Necklace, an Indian tale.
“Le cortège de Dalim Kumar […] arriva au palais; et le roi et la reine Suo allèrent à la rencontre de leur fils perdu depuis si longtemps. Inutile de dire à quel point leur joie était intense. Ils tombèrent dans les bras les uns des autres et se mirent à pleurer.”
For quite some time now, my favorite painting has been “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. This is a classic western painting that has become symbolic of ideal beauty in the art world & in pop culture. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see the actual painting in Florence, and ever since I was curious to create my own “desi remix”. Recently, there’s been a lot of conversations about westerners “borrowing” eastern cultures, so I thought why not “easternize” a classic western painting? A lot of my work has a heavy indian influence, so for inspiration I started looking through all my old indian story books. India has such a rich history of story telling, the art of epics & folk tales has become the base of our culture. This is why I wanted my translation to be connected to a tale most indians would recognize.
In my research, I came across a painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicting king Shantanu and his queen, Satyavati from the Mahabharata. Satyavati was the daughter of a fisherman, a commoner who made a living helping her father fish. It was said that people always noted the stench of fish exuding from her body. She was known for this stench until she met a priest who exchanged her foul smell for one so fragrant it made her smell alluring from far away (which is what lead king Shantanu to her). Similar to the original Birth of Venus, there is a question of what we consider beautiful. Satyavati was a commoner but was beautiful enough for a king. Whether by her smell, looks, physical or internal beauty, beauty is more than just godly or divine, which classic paintings have traditionally lead us to believe. In light of beauty in south asian culture today, there has been much talk about sexuality and breaking free from the stereotypical image of south asian women being shy and obedient by instead showing beauty in the strength of a woman’s actions and not being ashamed of her body. Physical beauty has typically been something that is celebrated in western art, but it’s something we shy away from especially in south asian culture. This is why I want the viewer not only to see the visual depiction of Satyavati’s story but to see power in all aspects of Satyavati’s being: the ugliness of her now beautiful stench, her humble beginnings and background as a working woman, her body in both the physical and spiritual sense, internal and external self, and her allure as a woman.
It’s funny how throughout time we keep trying to define beauty and place parameters on something that is ever changing and unbound. It truly is in the eye of the beholder.
Anonymous said: Hello! I’m doing research about the Native American mythological character Coyote. I’m using different stories from the book “American Indian Trickster Tales” to create a composite character for my book. He is meant to represent chaos overall and how it can lead to change, temporary or otherwise. I’m worried that this can become/is an issue, even though the character himself is recognized among many different groups and is characterized similarly in many of their in their stories. Your thoughts?
You seem to be hinting that you want to know whether this will be “cultural appropriation.” In writing this particular story, you will need to research whether your choices are appropriate, not appropriated.
To create a foundation for research that produces an inherently non-offensive work, the key is simple: approach the culture as a people, not a subject. When you look at it as a subject you want to research the facts in a clinical manner that focuses on accuracy. When you look at a culture for what it is (a people),you focus on personal experiences in your research, planting empathy, relatability, and immersion into your story.
It’s not that you should ignore being correct, it’s that you shouldn’t make correctness your point. It’s that People Of Color need representation, not a presentation. They don’t need you to learn about the nuances of their heritage, they need you to empathize with them and they need characters and stories to relate to. If your point was to educate someone about a culture, you would be writing anthropological journals, not fiction.
Now, onto Coyote specifically. I could give you booklists, but an online search can do that for you. So I’ll tell you this instead: When researching Coyote, it will be safest to assume that everything you know to be true is not and never was and not just because he is a trickster. Rather, the values you were raised with (and write about) and take for granted are probably not the same as his. You need to be conscious of whether the culture behind this folklore actually agrees with the message of your story. Be sensitive to the following opinions.
These in particular are relevant to chaos and change:
Whether change and progress is good, or tradition and heritage is more important.
Whether there is more merit to having a stable life than an ideal one.
Whether or not being fatalistic is a good thing.
Whether it is sinful to look forward to the future.
Whether inheritance and social standing is a birthright, not a coincidence.
Whether shortcomings can come from bad luck.
Whether it is insulting to your fellow social class to choose to move up in the world.
Whether one is personally responsible for being a good, moral person.
I do not know what your values are, but if the culture you’re using turns out to DISAGREE with most/everything you’re trying to say, is it truly respectful to use that culture anyway to satisfy your personal message?
If in the end you want to use other Chaos gods/spirits, try these popular guys on for size: Ti Malice, Anansi, Legba, Chung Kuel, Kishijoten, Ptah, or Oghma.
Most of the Native American books I have in my personal library are history or language books, but a few of them also cover quite a bit of the mythological/religious aspects. The stuff I read is very tribe-specific (thanks to UNWANTED), but if you’re interested in history, as well, I can recommend Book of the Hopi and The Book of the Navajo—pretty comprehensive!
After his previous meeting, Josh didn’t feel as anxious to go to Dr. Hill’s office. The doctor had shared a part of his life with Josh and Sam that he didn’t have to, and Josh felt oddly touched by that.
The ride to Dr. Hill’s house was still too quiet for his liking though. Sam had gone away on a climbing trip and wouldn’t be back until Friday, so Josh had to find ways to keep himself occupied while she was busy to keep from falling into a deeper depression.
Sam wasn’t there to tease him about his driving, or to distract him from his thoughts. She wasn’t even there to simply reflect the stunning beauty of the day through her own personality.
Maybe it was for the best. It gave him time to think about what Dr. Hill had said at their last meeting, and it gave him time to reflect on how Sam had helped him in the past few months. Usually those thoughts wouldn’t come to Josh until late at night, as he laid in bed, waiting for sleep to overcome him.
Dr. Hill might be able to help him understand this situation better.
(this is a long story, takes place over multiple years)When I was in the second grade, my parents finally decided we were moving out my grandparent’s house and finally going to settle into our very own home.
We saw this house daily, we always passed it on the way to the super market or doing daily things. My mom was in love with this house from the moment she stepped in. Three stories, victorian, beautiful front deck, two and a half acres of land, a beautiful river in the backyard, it looked like a house from a magazine. Finally my parents decided we were moving in, it was too good of a deal to pass up.
The very first time I stepped foot into the house, i got this feeling of being watched, and like i was unwanted, but i was only seven at the time, i just ignored it. Finally we move in, my room was this giant old play room where the old family that lived here made it their kid’s play room, there was little paper animals all over the walls, bears, giraffes, dogs, cats. The floor was a white tile with rainbow glitter on it, but my mom covered it up with tan carpeting.
Soon as days go by, i start waking up in the middle of the night in pain, massive pain, where i cry, and would have no idea why. My mom would inspect me, finding scratch marks on my body and nasty bruises. One night it was so bad, i woke up to find as if someone with long nails clawed my wrist to the point of bleeding. The school thought my parents were abusing me, which everyone in my house knew they weren’t. My mom and dad kept passing it off as me being a restless sleeper and hurting myself, even though they were so freaked out. Nothing happened to my brother, ever, so they figured it was just me.
Lea Michele, Rohan Chand to Lead Voice Cast of DreamWorks Animation's Bollywood Musical
The “Glee” star and “Bad Words” actor are nearing deals for Kevin Lima’s animated movie
“Glee” star Lea Michele and talented child actor Rohan Chand (“Bad Words”) are nearing deal to voice two of the lead characters in DreamWorks Animation’s musical “Bollywood Superstar Monkey,” multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap.
Representatives for DreamWorks Animation and Michele did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kevin Lima, the “Enchanted” filmmaker who also directed Disney’s “Tarzan,” signed on in July 2011 to direct from a script by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges, who previously co-wrote “Bend It Like Beckham” together.
Disney’s first Bollywood-style animated musical adventure is loosely based on the “Ramayana,” an epic Indian tale about a man whose wife is kidnapped by a demon king.
Story follows monkey brothers Raj and Deepu, the latter of whom is younger and will be voiced by Chand. When Raj accidentally releases the ten-headed demon king Ravana from his enchanted sleep, the demon kidnaps Bollywood superstar Chandani. The unlikely sibling heroes then team up with Chandani’s pet monkey Pinki and embark on a thrilling journey to rescue Chandani, save their city and defeat Ravana.
Michelle is in negotiations to voice the role of Pinki, though her deal has not closed yet.
Lisa Stewart and Chris Chase will produce, while A.R. Rahman (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”) are working on the film’s music and lyrics, respectively.