Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Eye Goddess Memorialized

Thank goddess for The New York Times, else I would never find out about such exhibits as this one:

From Around the Globe, a Mustering of the Tribes
Published: May 16, 2008

All art fairs are messy, but the New York International Tribal & Textile Arts Show is messier than most. It assembles a ridiculously broad range of tribal art from Africa, Oceania, Asia and North and South America. It is a forceful, entrancing ensemble nonetheless.

This year’s fair has relocated to smaller quarters in the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, at 26th Street, far south of its former home in the Park Avenue Armory. There is a tighter floor plan downtown — where the fair actually began 14 years ago, under a different name — but it looks and feels pretty good, with 76 participating galleries from 10 countries.


The New York International Tribal & Textile Arts Show runs through Sunday at the 69th Regiment Armory, Lexington Avenue at 26th Street; (212) 532-1516,
Ach! Too bad the show finishes today. I highly recommend checking out the slide show at The New York Times article, which contains a short sampling of some of the art and artifacts at the show, absolutely stunning, wonderful pieces.

The "rug" image I included here is from the slide show. If that isn't a representation of an Eye Goddess, I'll eat my wool beret. Yes, she's from the 19th century - but she's from eastern Anatolia, an ancient hotbed of goddess worship (and I'll bet she's still worshipped there today, despite Islam).

Take and look and see what I see: She's got a sort of diamond-shaped head with two eyes (classic eye goddess iconography), a tree of life in the upper third of her body, and what look to be "chakra" points down the remaining two-thirds of her body. She's also outlined with - for lack of a better term on my part - an "energy mantra" that reminds me very much of the ancient serpent figures we see enclosing/ guarding the Sun God Re/Ra in ancient Egyptian iconography -- the serpents were representations of Mehen, the ancient serpent goddess/protector of Pharaoh as manifestation of the Sun God, as well as the serpent-had fringed cloak worn by archaic Athena. Altogether, She's an excellent example of ancient religious symbolism melding into certain iconic displays over the millenia.

I very much doubt this "rug" was ever meant to be walked upon as we trod upon our rugs today. For one thing, notice the much wider designed border at the "top" of the rug (above the Goddess' head) than at the bottom. I believe it was designed this way to facilitate hanging. The white "zig-zag" pattern across the top (an ancient pattern that is familiar on many goddess icons, I call it "M/V" for the wave-like pattern it forms, or "chevron") forms eight each "triangles" whose bottom edges are formed or closed by two miniature "eyes," also picked out in white threads. Extremely clever design on the part of the female weaver, because these "triangles" in and of themselves each represent a miniature "eye goddess" - diamond shaped head with two eyes!

Notice, too, the use of EIGHT - and the multiple of TWO TIMES EIGHT - or SIXTEEN. Hmmmm, where have we seen those numbers crop up before??? Hint: In chess.

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