Tag Archives: Oshun

Anklet Weekend

I had my ears pierced when I was a baby so I don’t remember the pain if there was any. In traditional Caribbean fashion I was sent gold earrings and a gold bracelet from a beloved Aunt of my mother’s. In my baby pictures I can see them in my ears and on my wrist but they are no longer in my possession. During my adolescence, demonstrating classic early signs of DIY craftiness, I pierced my own ears a second time for a second pair of earholes, which I can still feel on my lobes but have not used in many years.

I remember that at Bard College, as an icebreaker with my new and slightly stiff roommate, I held out my hands to her one morning before heading out to class and asked, “What do you think? Do I look too much like Mr. T?” I wore way more rings in those days, at least two to three on each finger.

In addition to earrings, I also have an eclectic collection of necklaces that I love as well. I shop on etsy, H&M, Forever 21, street vendors and museum gift shops which are literally like an amusement park for me.

All of this to say, I wear and have worn as much jewelry as the next woman or man for that matter. But I’ve never done anklets. Oh there was one triple stranded anklet my godmother made for me when I was a girl. She made me jewelry all the time that I adored. That anklet wasn’t one of them. It’s not that it wasn’t nice. I just didn’t get it. My high school BF, Vanessa used to wear these cute silver toe rings. I could never pull that off either. I loved them on her though as I love anklets on other women. I find small adornments like that to be very special and specific. It is an adornment beyond the traditional Western adornment. You have to pay attention to see it and when you look you see more than just the jewelry; you see the body part. Ohhh it’s so feminine.

Well Khalilah is very feminine and she has been after me for some time now to make an anklet for her using some beads she purchased at Beads of Paradise which were originally purchased for me to make her waist beads. I spent a little time in the bead shops downtown on 6th Ave this weekend looking for accent beads, rings, clasps, crimp beads and crimp bead covers to create Khalilah’s anklet. I love bead stores. I got very curious and learned new things about finishing off beaded projects that I didn’t know before. Eternal gratitude to YouTube. LOL!

19487127659_af697f4581_k
Oshun Anklet for Khalilah

This past Sunday I made an anklet bracelet for each of us. Khalilah’s anklet has these beautiful copperish base beads with a translucent pink color you can see when you hold it up to the light, orange accent beads, and these beautiful shimmery gold colored bells that sound delightful when they ring. These colors are inspired by the Goddess Oshun.

19678239481_bf33676533_o

I made mine with a tinier bright yellow base bead because I am just plain shy about wearing an anklet. The yellow is bright but the strand is thin and modest because I am a walking contradiction. LOL! I used green and orange accent beads because they are two of my favorite colors. When I put it on I feel so freaking damsel like. I mean it’s beyond feminine. It’s such a delicate and sweet thing to wear jewelry on your ankles and feet.

I haven’t made anything by hand in a while though and this was a very interesting project. I feel like my sense of color combination and placement is becoming more refined than it used to be. It always feels good to complete a hands on project like this and for me one inspiration invariably leads to others. It’s one of the many things I love about color, creation and making things with my hands, especially in the Summer.

Urbeve promotional

Advertisements

Visions of Oshun

Oshun Collage
We’re all here for Oshun so I equate that with Oshun being here.

-PBS Documentary on the Nigerian Oshun Festival

So I’ve been working on this project lately that has required a study of different illustrations of the goddess Oshun. Oshun is one of hundreds of Yoroba Orishas, a Goddess who embodies, beauty, sensuality, healing, abundance, harmony, divination and the feminine archetype. I am discovering that there are many different interpretations of what Oshun represents but essentially she is in some ways to ancient African religions what the Virgin Mary is to Catholicism, what Venus or Aphrodite was to Romans and Greeks. But unlike those latter mentioned, Oshun, to my unending delight, is represented primarily as a very dark skinned Black woman. Her colors are represented as a constant spectrum of gold, amber, yellow and orange. She can be found near bodies of water and always carries a mirror. She likes sweet things and is often shown wearing a veil which allows her to see the world eternally as a sweet heavenly vision of beauty. Doesn’t that sound dope?

It hit me yesterday as I looked at all the googled images of her, how powerful the symbols of her identity are with regard to visual interpretations. With all the different versions out there, there are those basic elements that never change. Like the Virgin Mary, Venus or Aphrodite, artists understand that key colors, elements in nature and symbolic objetcs are what communicate to the viewer who and what this woman represents. This is art 101 obviously but I never really even understood this even in art history class. I wish it had been taught to me in this way. A Picasso version of the Virgin Mary will not look like Carravagio’s, but the basic symbolical indicators will be there somewhere whether literal, obscure, abstracted or minimized.

Blue, white, rays of natural light. Yellow, gold, mirror water nature. When we wear these colors, spend time in specific natural spaces, we can recognize that certain religions and cultures would see us as invoking saints, goddesses, gods, spirits that are represented by these things. We attribute powers to elements based on both ancient practice and natural metaphysical laws.

Why do the colors deep blue and purple represent royalty? Why does yellow invoke joy and lightness? Most of us have been conditioned to an unconscious reflexive knowledge of white as representing purity. The color black however has had the worst rap ever. Buried in decades of negative association with death, evil, abyss, black actually symbolizes the highest seat of wisdom as seen in clergymen and ministers who wear all black or martial arts masters who acquire the Black belt in the various disciplines of Martial Arts. We all know that a Black Belt can only be acquired with intense hard work and commands great respect. For me, seeing so many versions of Oshun with this dark black skin is even more of a validation and praise of the color black. It sends the message to my heart that blackness is beautiful, is sacred, is virtuous. And every version of Oshun must be dark skinned in order for me to understand that she is Oshun.

It is said that in the Vatican, there is a black version of the Virgin Mary hidden somewhere and that this is the one the Pope worships behind closed doors. Oooh! My google search of Black Virgin Mary has produced such a range of beautiful renditions! The darker Goddesses are stepping out into the light.
We make it so.
-Team Urban Eve