Building the Arte

Kavad 4.8 - Completed Mansions of the Moon on Flickr.Via Flickr:
Well, after months of fussing and learning, I’ve finally put the pictures of the Mansions of the Moon on the kavad. And I’ve learned a bunch of things from doing so.
1) some pictures are fairly easy to draw, while others are hard;
2) some pictures are fairly easy to imagine and others are hard;
3) the easy pictures, like the head of the lion, are associated with forces of good will and great fortune;
4) the hard pictures, like the snake, are associated with inauspicious forces;
5) the images are almost chosen with the positive and negative forces in mind — it’s easier to do good with these images than it is to do evil.
6) maintaining a single artistic style as a learning artist all te way through the images is incredibly difficult: kudos to Nigel Jackson for his work and his success at this.
7) figuring out how to depict people cross-legged, or on horseback, or seated on chairs, or fighting … Hard!
I reaffirm that all these images are a program to teach drawing or illumination skills, and secondarily to teach a kind of Palace of Memory technique for holding all this information in memory. I think my skills as an artist have improved from all this copying and drawing, but… I now have two challenges.
First, I’ve run out of magical lists to illustrate. Sure, there are plenty of seals and sigils I could add to the kavad. But frankly I don’t know of any more lists of images to be added to the box. And like it or not, theres still quite a bit of real estate inside. I could add the Goetics, but it feels like a bit much to add to a box covered in angels.
Second — and perhaps this seems like the bigger challenge — I’m left with two major areas to work in. These are the central shrine, which is effectively the Throne (or at least the Footstool) of God, since this kavad is in essence a shrine.  What do you put at the heart of a shrine to an unseen and unseeable God? The other piece of real estate is big — the insides of the outer walls — but if I divide it up for the seventy-two goes, there’s not enough room. If I divide it up for the tribes of Israel, or the prophets, or icons of great magicians… Then who? What? How many? Hmmm.
Things to consider moving forward.

Kavad 4.8 - Completed Mansions of the Moon on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Well, after months of fussing and learning, I’ve finally put the pictures of the Mansions of the Moon on the kavad. And I’ve learned a bunch of things from doing so.

1) some pictures are fairly easy to draw, while others are hard;
2) some pictures are fairly easy to imagine and others are hard;
3) the easy pictures, like the head of the lion, are associated with forces of good will and great fortune;
4) the hard pictures, like the snake, are associated with inauspicious forces;
5) the images are almost chosen with the positive and negative forces in mind — it’s easier to do good with these images than it is to do evil.
6) maintaining a single artistic style as a learning artist all te way through the images is incredibly difficult: kudos to Nigel Jackson for his work and his success at this.
7) figuring out how to depict people cross-legged, or on horseback, or seated on chairs, or fighting … Hard!

I reaffirm that all these images are a program to teach drawing or illumination skills, and secondarily to teach a kind of Palace of Memory technique for holding all this information in memory. I think my skills as an artist have improved from all this copying and drawing, but… I now have two challenges.

First, I’ve run out of magical lists to illustrate. Sure, there are plenty of seals and sigils I could add to the kavad. But frankly I don’t know of any more lists of images to be added to the box. And like it or not, theres still quite a bit of real estate inside. I could add the Goetics, but it feels like a bit much to add to a box covered in angels.

Second — and perhaps this seems like the bigger challenge — I’m left with two major areas to work in. These are the central shrine, which is effectively the Throne (or at least the Footstool) of God, since this kavad is in essence a shrine. What do you put at the heart of a shrine to an unseen and unseeable God? The other piece of real estate is big — the insides of the outer walls — but if I divide it up for the seventy-two goes, there’s not enough room. If I divide it up for the tribes of Israel, or the prophets, or icons of great magicians… Then who? What? How many? Hmmm.

Things to consider moving forward.

Kavad 4.6 - west front on Flickr.This is the west front of the kavad, showing the twelve signs of the zodiac.
You can read more about the kavad project, on my blog

Kavad 4.6 - west front on Flickr.

This is the west front of the kavad, showing the twelve signs of the zodiac.

You can read more about the kavad project, on my blog

Kavad 4.6 - Geomancy signs on Flickr.Via Flickr:
The 16 signs of Geomancy are a largely forgotten oracular or divinatory system that possibly hails originally from West Africa. Adapted and absorbed into western magic, it’s always had a visual component, as the 4-bit binary figures or signs became translated into pictures that could tell a story. A whole lot of side information should included in these symbols, though - parts of body, stability or mobility of the figure, relationships to astrology, and more. Bears thinking on.

Kavad 4.6 - Geomancy signs on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
The 16 signs of Geomancy are a largely forgotten oracular or divinatory system that possibly hails originally from West Africa. Adapted and absorbed into western magic, it’s always had a visual component, as the 4-bit binary figures or signs became translated into pictures that could tell a story. A whole lot of side information should included in these symbols, though - parts of body, stability or mobility of the figure, relationships to astrology, and more. Bears thinking on.

Kavad 4.5 on Flickr.An image of the unfolded foam-board prototype of the Kavad I’m building.A Kavad is a storyteller’s box from northern India, from Rajasthan.  Instead of having drawers and compartments like a jewelry box, it has folding panels that tell a story.  My earlier experiments with the kavad’s design are here and here.Original inspiration/review for this project, from Suzanne Wind Gaskell’s Kavad of a Sacred Geometer project.  This is what I’m trying to build.

Kavad 4.5 on Flickr.

An image of the unfolded foam-board prototype of the Kavad I’m building.


A Kavad is a storyteller’s box from northern India, from Rajasthan.  Instead of having drawers and compartments like a jewelry box, it has folding panels that tell a story.  My earlier experiments with the kavad’s design are here and here.


Original inspiration/review for this project, from Suzanne Wind Gaskell’s Kavad of a Sacred Geometer project.  This is what I’m trying to build.