I crocheted these two blocks last night as an excuse to tell you about the most beautiful book I got in the mail yesterday! My sister originally tried to get Tantra Song by Franck Andre Jamme for me at Christmas, but there was a mix up where she ordered it, and they sold out. But, being the awesome sister she is, she pre-ordered it for the next printing, and now the much anticipated book is finally in my hands!
This book includes a rare collection of Tantric paintings and some writings by Franck Andre Jamme which include his back story on how he came to collect these pieces. You also learn that Tantric painting is much more than an art form. In fact, it is a practice, much like meditation, where the emphasis is on the actual act of painting for the adept, and on the act of looking and meditating on the finished piece by others.
What I find particularly fascinating about them is the resemblance they have to what we know as "modern art." Isn't there something marvelously mysterious about these images that can be traced back to 17th century India and more recently in modern abstract art? Perhaps these powerful images have some connection to the collective unconscious? (Or perhaps I read a little too much Jung...)
Anyways, I thought it would be fun to make some crochet blocks with these paintings as inspiration. Working with this image, with a golden bronze bindu in the center representing concentrated energy, "the adept will come to 'see' the world- as it is and in its entirety." I like this idea of seeing the whole through one tiny part. I believe somewhere in the book the author talks of "seeing the world through a grain of sand."
So I made a circle of five rounds, and set to "squaring" it, which I managed with very little trial and error! Because I was so excited with how well it went, I thought I'd try another!
Oh my, more red and green!
I thought this was such an interesting piece. I couldn't stop looking at it. Interpretations of this image include the notion of time and it's liberating qualities upon one's "awareness of time's powerful stride... giving rise to a richness- especially within."
With the two previous paintings as inspiration, I came up with this block. I really like how it is not your typical crochet block because of the lack of symmetry.
However, both of these blocks still pale in comparison to these tantric paintings! I think the imperfect and salvaged paper that the Tantric painters use really adds to beauty, perhaps simply by reinforcing the idea that the finished piece is not the main goal, it's the painting of the symbols and the meditations of their meaning that's important. But I do believe that the old salvaged paper with it's marks and wear is perfectly imperfect, operating by the Japanese "wabi sabi" principle: beauty in the naturally flawed and worn.
But now I'm stuck with a question. Do I use these blocks for my scrapghan or should I continue on with the idea of more abstract blocks and create an entire blanket in this vein? Perhaps I could throw in some abstract squares as well as the circles? I don't know...