This is an oil painting on MDF (medium-density fibreboard) rather than canvas. With several coats of gesso (a gluey-white paint mixture), it provides a very fine, smooth surface over which paint glides quite easily, which in this case made it easier for me to achieve the ribbon-like and underwater effects. It measures 102 x 35 cm.
Though I didn’t set out to do it, now that this is finished, it reminds me of the Nazar or “evil eye” amulet one often finds in Turkey or Greece. These amulets are believed to reflect the ill-intentions of others, protecting the person or household from which the eye looks out, seeing all. Though they can be found in different colors, I’ve always loved that deep cobalt shade of blue one traditionally expects.
One can scarcely tell for certain whether this charm is being pushed up from the bottom of the ocean floor by some force or wave, or whether it is floating to the bottom where it will lay buried in sand for all eternity. Either way, I hope that it may serve the same purpose as the Nazar, warding off evil and acting as a lucky charm wherever it hangs.
Did you know? Shisha embroidery is the craft of sewing tiny mirroring objects to fabric. It originated in 17th century India (supposedly with the wife of Shah Jehan who built the Taj Mahal in her honor) eventually spreading throughout Asia and the Middle East. Interestingly, Native Americans are also known to have used mirrors to decorate their dress supposedly seeing them as symbols of wealth and prestige (though Mirror Spiritus has a much more spiritual theory on their usage by tribal cultures). Whether sewn on clothing or into domestic fabrics such as tablecloths and hangings, shisha is used in some cultures to throw off the “evil eye”, whether this was believed to happen because it reflected the evil away or because it dazzled and distracted, one cannot say. Mirror Spiritus finds shisha a delightful means of bringing more light into our world. (And the “evil eye” protection can’t hurt!) We feature some shisha throw pillows in our store and are keeping our eyes peeled for other exceptional products out there to feature in the future.
The mirrors most often represent the center of flowers or the eyes of animals. In wall hangings, they sometimes represent the ears of the Sun God or the breasts of Radha, so they aren’t random decoration traditionally. The video above demonstrates (in a rather meditative fashion) how the mirrors are affixed to fabric.
For those of you who have never had the privilege of seeing the Native American “Jingle Dance” live, take a look at this video. Though it is not related to Shisha in an obvious way, Mirror Spiritus would speculate that the numerous rows of shiny metal bells perform a similar function…to bring in more light and cast out darkness. What do you think?