Sunday, June 26, 2011


Malay mermaid in coral reef
Mermaids appear in the folklore of the Malay world. The Malay Annals, a 16th century book that compiled the genealogies of the dynasties of the Malay Archipelago, recorded the legend of Raja Suran (or Chulan), who married a mermaid princess.1 Their three sons became the founders of Malay Dynasties of Southeast Asia.2
Other mentions of mermaid in Malay culture include:
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kadal Kanni

South Indian mermaid among schools of fishes

Was inspired to draw a South Asian mermaid after looking at Southeast Asian paintings of mermaids from the Ramayana epic, in which merfolk were deployed to destroy the bridge that Rama was building to Lanka.1 According to tradition, this bridge started in Rameswaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.2

Rama's ally Hanuman and his monkey army laid the bridge. In Indian tradition, Hanuman is celibate,4 but in the Thai retelling of the Ramayana, Hanuman fathered a son with Ravana's mermaid daughter,5 who had been ordered by her father to destroy the bridge.1
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Cameroonian mermaid
The inspiration for this illustration came from a Cameroonian friend who told me fascinating accounts of the worship of miengu (singular 'jengu'), mermaid-like water deities of the Duala and related ethnic groups in Cameroon.1 My friend also mentioned a similar Mami Wata tradition in neighboring Nigeria.2

Mermaid's accessories are inspired by (but NOT claiming to be an authentic representation of) Duala jewelry from Cameroon and Yoruba jewelry from Nigeria. Marine life in mermaid's environment inspired by (but not intended to be a scientifically accurate representation of ;-) species of underwater life in the Gulf of Guinea.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Longevity and Luck Greeting Card

Southern Mountain, Eastern Sea
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See below for the sources of the text and symbolism used in this piece.

Eastern Sea, Southern Mountain

The expression "longevity compared to the Southern Mountain, luck as (vast as) the Eastern Sea" was recorded in a short story from the Ming Dynasty compilation "Tales from Qingping Mountain Hall".1

The idiom "longevity compared to the Southern Mountain" can be traced back further to "The Book of Odes", a compilation of poems and songs dated between the 11th - 7th century BCE.2

What's the deal with peaches?