Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Genie of the Moon

Genie silhouetted against Moon
Inspired by the description of the black genie of the moon in Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic by R. O. Winstedt:
...in some ancient layer of Malay beliefs before the introduction of Saivism, the white spirit of the sun, the black spirit of the moon, and the yellow spirit of sunset may have been important, seeing that they have Indonesian names (mambang), have been incorporated into the Malay's Hindu pantheon, and have survived under Islam as humble genies...

After accepting the Hindu deities, the Malays identified the black spirit of the moon as a manifestation of Siva.1 The Black Genie is described as having "upside down" hair and hanging "at the gate of the sky."1

Thanks to my awesome friend who helped with the modeling and photo shoot.
  1. R.O. Winstedt, "Gods, Spirits and Ghosts," Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic


  1. Oh love. The hair. The moon. That skirt!!!!

    1. Thank you :-) I spent quite a bit of time reading up on Indonesian and Malaysian batik patterns for this illustration. Not that anyone is going to notice the details in a letter-size print, lol, but it was fun to learn a little bit about the diversity and complexity of Southeast Asian fabric designs.

    2. Oh but see, you're talking to the crazy lady who hunts down different basket weaving patterns, down to the dyes and materials used in the different regions.

      I would love hear more about your sources for regional batik patterns!

      And I'd be rude to ask without giving, so here's a lovely visual book on the matter of texture and patterns : Pacific Pattern by Susanne Kuchler and Graeme Were.

    3. Thanks for the rec! It turns out that my local library has a copy of "Pacific Pattern" :-)

      I was reading "Batik design" by Pepin van Roojen. It focus is on Indonesian batiks (with some mention of Malaysia/Singapore). It was interesting to read the analyses of the different foreign influences on individual designs - Indian, Chinese, Arab etc. Batik making was apparently a multi-cultural industry in Indonesia, with Arabs and Chinese who had settled in the region starting their own workshops.