indian-tale

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Fairy Tales Recast: Rapunzel

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried:
     "Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
     Let down your hair to me."

Deepika Padukone as Rapunzel
Ali Zafar as the Prince

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Tales of Patan | A visual ode to the handwoven textile of Patola made in Patan, Western India

Outfits | Gaurang Shah

Concept and Styling | Who Wore What When

Photography | Karan Nevatia

Models | Naomi Janumala and Poulomi Das

“Birth of Satyavati” 

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. 

The Princess and the Frog taught me that the course of true love never did run smooth.

Rapunzel taught me to appreciate what I already own, even if it is little.

Pocahontas taught me to be strong, even if I may be different.

Little Mermaid taught me that people make huge sacrifices for people they love.

Aladdin taught me to dream beyond my wildest imaginations.

Mulan taught me that equality is never truly equal, but it should be.

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An old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

This is such a lovely story: so simple and yet so true. I think each and every one of us has these two wolves running around inside us.

The Evil wolf or the Good Wolf is fed daily by the choices we make with our thoughts. What you think about and dwell upon will in a sense appear in your life and influence your behavior.

The crucial question is “Which are you feeding today”?

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.”

When the yellow horned serpent heard the strange music, he was charmed.

The Red Indian Fairy Book

Frances Jenkins Olcott
Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1917.

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Just wanted to spread the word amongst some of you historical simmers, @simlishmfdoyouspeakit @professorlilith @historicalsimslife @brendantheesimmer in case you hadn’t seen this wonderful work by asyli. Hay cart here, campfire here, dreamcatchers here, wheel here, teepee here, outdoor set here, cabinets here. There are more conversions and build stuff and more to be released including a dog sled. Thank you asyli. Maybe @orthekaslair might also like them.

As always, please be respectful of other people’s cultures. For the record, I am part Native American and am fine with people using these objects for historical challenges, I believe they are part of mankind’s patrimony and should be admired and celebrated as long as they are treated with care and dignity.

Wow, seems you like the Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers post.

To add a little bit more:

“The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Cherokee and Choctaw Indians during World War I.

Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Lakota, Meskwaki, and Comanche soldiers. Soldiers of Basque ancestry were also used for code talking by the U.S. Marines during World War II in areas where other Basque speakers were not expected to be operating.

The last surviving Seminole code talker, Edmond Harjo of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, died on March 31, 2014, at the age of 96. Harjo had served as far afield as Normandy and the Battle of Iwo Jima during the war.”

(X)

For more info heck out National Museum of the American Indian  

The comic: Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers: We Speak In Secret

On Using Native American And Other Folklore

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.

- Ms. Elaney