Saturday, February 8, 2014
"An Unexpected Discovery"

The day began early. Last night, I only nodded off once through the Olympic opening program, and jerked quickly awake again to see a charming colorful scene of onion domed buildings. Although the scenes going through the centuries of Russian history were certainly 'propagandistic', they were very artistically done. After the Olympic Flame had at last been brought to its holder and all the fireworks had brilliantly light up the night, Julia and I headed off to bed.

Did I dream? I'm sure I did, but I can't remember now. I woke early and added one more photo to the Renaissance Faire collection. Then off to tasks. We got groceries for the week, put them away and dashed off to the theater for Monuments Men. The low score at RottenTomatoes puzzled me, but I was curious enough to not let that deter me. I wanted to learn about the heroic efforts of the Allied team of museum directors, curators, and art historians who quickly had to learn how to fight like soldiers in order to rescue artwork the Nazis had stolen. Both Julia and I enjoyed the film immensely. I didn't find it "stiffly nostalgic" nor did I find the narrative "curiously slack". I don't think this is merely because I majored in Art History in college and have written an art historical book about the iconography of the god Set (aka Sutekh).

Okay, maybe my passionate interest in art and its perservation has had some influence in my reaction to the movie. Nevertheless, if you like a good tale about heroic efforts of memorable characters, you'll like this movie.

We exited the movie theater feeling quite hungry. Where to go? Julia suggested Old Town. We hadn't eaten at the Garden Café in ages, and the weather was perfect for dining outside. We splurged, eating all kinds of food not normally in our diet, cheesy tortilla soup, cheesy quiche and later... Oh yes, there was later! Julia was longing for draft beer, and after an amble through some antique shops, we stopped at the Pinthouse. I probably had more of the apple cider than she did, but I didn't care for her other choices, one taste, and she had those two glasses all to herself. We also had a 'dessert' of a pizza-like flatbread dish, less doughy than regular pizza and very tasty.

We had seen a teapot at one of the shops earlier, and Julia remembered it with nostalgia, as it had come from her childhood city. Alas, the shop was closed! But other shops were open, including one we hadn't explored. I was surprised to find a beautiful brass goddess statue standing in a group of other brass pieces. I wasn't sure who it represented. But I carried it around the store, to give it a chance to 'speak' to me. I could sense some 'speaking'. Did the Egyptian Ma'at like it? Was it a fit gateway for transcultural Astarte? A sense of the capacity to right wrongs, a sense of power, I could sense both of those. I couldn't leave the statue there.

So home it came! I picked Julia's brain, did she recognize the headdress? She suggested Parvati, and I got to basic 'superficial' research. Okay, maybe not so 'superficial', as no doubt many interested and educated parties may have had influence in the Wiki page.

"Goddess of Power, Creation and Victory of Good over Evil", oh yes, I'd sensed that!


It didn't take long to figure out where I'd place her. I traded out the two small Shiva statues in the old arrangement for a larger Shiva statue:

Parvati and Shiva (who is Parvati's husband!) (The old arrangement)
All photos © Joan Ann Lansberry, © 2014

The Wiki page states "Parvati is source of all the powers and weapons. She is the base of all kinds of powers that is used for doing any work. It is also believed that without her Shiva remains as Shava or Corpse, for she is the ultimate source of power for all beings, gods and Devas."

In my statue, Parvati is standing on a lotus bloom. "The lotus suggests a growing, expanding world imbued with vigorous fertile power." (Images of Indian Goddesses: Myths, Meanings, and Models, by Madhu Bazaz Wangu, Shakti Malik, Abhinave Publications, India, 2003, (page 21).

Furthermore, the "gods and goddesses, the buddhas and bodhisattvas, typically sit or stand upon a lotus, which suggests their spiritual authority." (Wangu, page 21)

I've yet to learn what the two torch-like pieces the two hands are holding, but I have learned about the two forward hands. Parvati's left hand is in the Varadamudra mudra. The left hand is "held out, with palm uppermost and the fingers pointing downwards", and "symbolizes dispensing of boons". "Varadmudra and abhayamudra are the most common of several other mudras seen on images and icons relating to Indian religions."

Parvati's forward right hand is in the Abhayamudra mudra, in which "the right hand is held upright, and the palm is facing outwards", which conveys "reassurance and safety", dispelling fear. This "earliest Mudra" is also featured in my statue of Shiva.

Perhaps the two torch-like pieces really are torches, whereby Parvati energizes Shiva, adding to his fire.

Saturday, February 15, 2014
"By the Strength of Her Love"

It was sought in the public place,
but it was not to be found there.
What was she seeking,
this thing of no price,
but of all value?
Only she could say,
only she could find.
But when her heart's desire came into being,
the leaping joy of triumph danced.
The newly born would soon dance, too.
And given voice, would soon sing
sweet songs, unlike any others,
charming songs that would soothe and give hope.
Of great love, this is born.
She brought it into being
by the strength of her love,
by the amazing, unstoppable force of her boundless love.

JAL, 2-15-14
Printable pdf

Possibly inspired by this tale about Parvati:
"Ganesha was Parvati's son born from her own desire and the perfumed scruff of her body." (pg.365) "Ganesha was born as Parvati's son; Shiva was his father only inasmuch as Parvati's longing for a son had arisen in her as Shiva's wife." (pg. 364), purely "as the result of Parvati's desire." (pg.365)
(The Presence of Siva, by Stella Kramrisch, Princeton University Press, 1981)

Kramrisch is Curator of Indian Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Professor of Indian Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

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