Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Made From Fire

jinn rising from flames in cave
Inspired by the Qu'ranic account of how God created humans from clay and djinn from smokeless fire.1

Character's clothing is referenced from (but by no means claiming to be an authentic representation of) men's attire from northern Cameroon and northern Nigeria, including, but not limited to, Hausa attire.

The djinn (genies) originated from Arabic folklore2; the spread of Islam circulated the mythology of genies beyond the Arab world, with non-Arab Muslim cultures applying the concept of djinn to native spirits from pre-Islamic traditions.3 The Hausa pronunciation for djinn is 'aljan', a term that is also applied to the Bori spirits of pre-Islamic Hausa religion, giving traditional spirits an Islamic context.4

Image available as:

  1. Qur'an 55:14–15
  2. Genie (Wikipedia)
  3. Working with Spirits among Muslim Hausa in Nigeria by Ulrika Andersson,
    Hantu Raya of Malay mythology (Wikipedia)
  4. Encyclopedia of Spirits


  1. This is absolutely beautiful. I particularly love your colours and the texture of the cavern walls. How did you do it?? :D

    I love that you research your subject so thoroughly, but never claim to be an expert. Your modesty is inspiring :)

  2. Thank you, Kat :-) Per my 'modesty', it's more like 'caution' or 'fear', for lack of a better word. I have come across individuals who make unsupported statements about what I consider to be aspects of 'my culture', statements that in my perception were inaccurate and/or stereotypical.

    That in itself isn't particularly unexpected or unforgivable. Most of us do not have anywhere near a full picture of a culture not our own, and we work with the superficial impressions of an outsider. Such 'mistakes' don't necessarily make someone 'bad' or 'evil', IMHO. But what makes me cringe is when someone (intentionally or not) takes on the tone of an expert when making unsupported statements about 'Group X this', or 'Group Y that' , statements that get repeated by others who were taken in by their (unintentionally or not) 'authoritative' tone.

    Horrified at the thought that I might be inadvertently doing the same thing, I tried to put in a disclaimer whenever I remember to do so (even for fantasy art, which by definition is 'not intended to represent what things are like in reality'), and to cite the sources of research that I used for a piece, so that readers can go directly to the sources of my information (or misinformation, as the case may be ;-) instead of taking my word for it.

    (We could get into the whole cultural appropriation discussion or debate how useful the concepts of 'yours' and 'mine', 'insider' vs 'outsider' are when practically the whole planet has been engaged in cross-cultural borrowing from thousands of years. But more thoughtful and informed people have posted on the topic elsewhere, so I'll leave the discussion to them for now :-)

    Per the wall question, I'll answer it on dA :-)