Sasanka: Marked: with the Hare (Color Palette Challenge – January)

Sasanka: Marked with the Hare is my submission piece for the January Color Palette Challenge. For this challenge, I decided to try using an old design – Gestalt Hare.

GestaltHare

In the notebook version the hare isn’t there, by which I mean there is an area of black paper left blank and the hare is seen only as a result of the coloured shapes around it. The other uncoloured shapes in the picture are like a jigsaw of the hare cut up and rearranged. So another aspect of the gestalt hare is that it is seen as a hare when those shapes are arranged in a particular way and as other images when they are arranged differently.

Gestalt Hare


In Sasanka the hare is fabric appliquéd onto a background and the other shapes have been left out. So, whilst Gestalt Hare is about forming gestalts, Sasanka is more an experiment with colour, fabric and thread.

And, of course, it is also about the Hare in the moon. Sasanka’ isn’t intended to be an exact copy, of Gestalt Hare, by the way, but it was the first time I had attempted to translate an image off the page and into fabric. It’s by no means technically amazing. In fact I would call it a sort of sketch itself but I’ve found it a very experimental and interesting process and gained at least a bit more insight into how to create pictures in fabric.

(Anchor embroidery floss, Madeira
thread, sewing case from Lucy at:

http://charmaboutyou.blogspot.com/ )

(Kona Solids Classics)

If you want to know more about the stories behind ‘Sasanka: Marked with the Hare’, you will find some stories at the botom of this post

This Challenge began with a colour palette selected by Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fiber, which you can see here

I started with these colours, which are very
close to Vicki’s palette
But then I suspected I was being 
too literal and added some more shades.
I imagined that if I kept sewing thin strips together I’d end up with a harmonic blended effect – but I just ended up with lots of bulk at the back and soon discovered fabric can’t be made to look like pen strokes in that way! (see right) So I moved onto using some Kona classics from a charm pack and decided to keep them in solid strips.
I found this easer – mostly because I liked the colour better – but even arranging the colours in an order I was happy with was something of a challenge because I continually found a colour would look too dark in one place but as soon as I moved it, it would appear very much paler. If I had good enough light to take decent photos I would post some to demonstrate! I’m genuinely beginning to wonder whether colours even exist in an objective way or if they merely appear as a particular shade relative to the colours that surround them…

To appliqué the hare (which, although it looks black, is navy blue) onto the ‘moon’ I used freezer paper. It’s a bit clunky but I think that’s because I’ve never done it before and I was very happy with the method and will use it again.

freezer paper
appliquéd hare

When I came to appliqué the moon (moda snow) onto the background, however, I found the blue stripes showed through.

I managed to get around this by fusing a circle of white fabric onto the background and then (using the freezer paper appliqué method again) attaching the ‘moon’ over it. But, whilst this was successful in blocking out the background, I found it was nearly impossible to get a needle through it when I tried to embroider it later. Any advice on how to solve this problem differently another time would be very welcome!

Having got the ‘picture’ together, I quilted it onto some batting with wavey lines across the background stripes.

But, although this added a level of texture, I didn’t feel the stitching stood out enough so I left the top half, which I was thinking of as sky, but added some bands of hand stitching to the bottom half, which I imagine as sea (although I think that means those bands should really stop lower than the bottom of the moon…)

As with the Kona strips, I found the thread colours behaved in a surprising way. The darker and mid-range colours tended to disappear and it was the lighter purple and green from Vickki’s selection – which I had thought wouldn’t ‘go’ – which stood out. I haven’t hand stitched anything in at least ten years and a main practical lesson I discovered was that my eyesight seems to have deteriorated! I did this this stitching in the evening and was shocked the next morning, in daylight, at how uneven it is :( I was, however very pleased with the overall effect. I love this as a way of adding interest and detail and I’ll certainly be trying it again.

* * *

THE HARE IN THE MOON

 

Hindus call the moon sasanka and the Sanskrit word for moon is cacin. Both words can be translated as “that which is marked with hare” and in common with the Indian view, the Celts, the Chinese and the Aztecs all believed they saw the shape of of a hare on the face of the full moon. If you go out and look at the full moon as it sets, you may well agree. The image on the right is from the East West Cultural Institute where the following claim is made:

“In the Bhagavad Gita (XI:39), the King Arjuna praises the might and majesty of the God Krishna in the following words:

“You are the Wind God, the God of Death, the God of Fire, the Lord of the Ocean, a Rabbit….”

A Rabbit??!

The actual Sanskrit word is “Śaśānka” or “the gray one”, which refers to a rabbit, but what does this term mean?
In the culture of India, the Rabbit refers to the Moon. So Arjuna is praising Krishna as the greatest of the heavenly bodies seen in the night sky (see also Bhagavad Gita verse XI:21)” [1].

Is this this something that can genuinely be read out of that text – or an idea being read into the text?

I have no idea but what is certain is that the concept of the hare in the moon has a long and illustrious history.There is, undoubtedly, a wealth of stories related to the hare and many of those stories explicitly connect the hare with the moon. Below is a very small selection. Without too much difficulty you can find many more. Everything that follows is related here solely for the sake of the stories.

Albrecht Dürer – Young Hare, 1502,

A Birth-Story in the Jataka, deals specifically with the mark of the hare on the moon. It tells of a time when the Future Buddha was born as a hare. On a particular fast-day, Sakka decided to try the hare and paid him a visit, disguised as a Brahman. On seeing him the Hare asked, “Brahman, why stand you there?” He received the reply: “Pandit, if I could but get something to eat, I would keep fast-day vows, and perform the duties of a monk.” The Hare instructed him to build a fire and declared, “I will sacrifice my life by jumping into the bed of live coals. And as soon as my body is cooked, do you eat of my flesh, and perform the duties of a monk.” Sakka made a fire but when the Hare ‘jumped into the bed of coals, as delighted in mind as a royal flamingo when he alights in a cluster of lotuses’, he found the fire was cold and asked for an explanation. Then Sakka revealed his true identity and to proclaim Hare’s virtue until the end of this world cycle, he squeezed a mountain and, with the juice, he drew the outline of a hare on the moon. You can read the full story here [2].

Other stories tend to focus more on a hare living in the moon or closely associated with a moon goddess.

In Africa they tell a story about the start of the world when the Moon wished to give humans the gift of immortality. She sent Hare to tell the people: ‘Just as the Moon dies and rises again so shall you.’ Unfortunately, Hare confused the message and said: ‘Just as the Moon dies and perishes, so shall you.’. When they heard Hare’s message, all the people became mortal. Sooner or later, the Moon found out what Hare had done and she was so angry that she beat Hare with a stick and split his nose [3].

Chinese mythology tells of a white hare who lives on the moon and stirs up the elixir of life. It is said Ch’ang O ate an immortality pill intended for her husband and fled to the moon to escape his anger. She became mistress of the moon palace but then she coughed up the pill, which became a hare. Ch’ang O ordered the hare to make her another pill but when she swallowed that pill she turned into a three legged toad! [4].

This Image is from The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art. It shows an “Embroidered Chinese pillow depicting the legendary lunar hare who passes his days on the moon pounding out the elixir of immortality. A symbol of longevity said to live 1,000 years, the hare was depicted in tomb sculpture as early as the Han dynasty (Berliner 70) 20th Century. Heibi Province” (5).
Figures of white hares were made, in China, to celebrate the moon festival and the white hare is seen as a a yin creature who is guardian of wild animals and comes from the North Pole bringing the greetings of the Moon goddess [6].

Closer to home, The Celts believed the hare (which “represented love, fertility and growth and was associated with the Moon, dawn and Easter – death, redemption and resurrection”) was a favourite of the goddess Eostre who changed into a hare at the full Moon [7]. Echoes of all this still resonate with us today in the concept of the modern western Easter bunny, whose origins trace back to a pagan vernal festival devoted to the Celtic goddess Eostre, when the moon hare laid eggs for good children [8].

Image from: The Graphics Fairy

Sources used and further reading:

[1] East West Cultural Institute

[2] Full story of ‘The Hare-mark in the Moon’ (The Harvard Classics (1909–14). ‘Buddhist Writings’. Translated from the J taka (iii. 5110), and constituting Birth-Story 316) at Bartleby.com

[3] Lots of detail and variations of this at : ‘African folktales in the New World’ By William Russell Bascom (Google Books)

[4,5,7,8] ‘The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art’ By Hope B. Werness (Google Books).

[6] h2g2.com (I don’t what h2g2 is but this page was formerly at the bbc)

16 thoughts on “Sasanka: Marked: with the Hare (Color Palette Challenge – January)

  1. LynCC says:

    This is so fantastic!!!! As I scrolled down, I couldn't believe the background was made of straight strips! The quilting added so much movement that it's totally changed. Absolutely wonderful.

    Like

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