March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Don’t have much time to blog these days, but still trying to stay in touch with what’s in and what’s off. Where’s the cool for me these days? Well clearly in Hana Pesut‘s photographic project Switcheroo, for which she’s touring America in ordre to recruit models. The project is simple and playful : it’s all about switching clothes. But it’s not about taking your best friend’s special shirt in exchange for your favourite blue jeans for this special night you’re going to have. No, more than this, it’s about dressing upside down, well, better than confused and confusing words, you’d better watch Hana’s pics – somehow surrealist.
Interesting how your clothes model your identity. Don’t you get confused between genders through these exchanges? Yet somehow, the clothes just fit. As if there was no specific criteria to identify what kind of clothes are made for which gender. Well, are there any, really? Some men wear skirts completely freely and it’s not so shocking, isn’t it? This is just to stress how much we’re pressurized by conventional outfits. Just break the line.
March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last chapter – but not least – on dragons. This post is about how they continue to people our cultures and folk’s tales. Well first of all I must say that I come from a Chinese family, so I have heard tales of dragons for my entire childhood. Somehow I guess I have always wanted to believe they exist, even if today, I must admit it is unlikely. But still. They’re vivid. They’re here in our fantasy books, in our most famous fairytales. Take our reference, Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Smaug appears as the traditional dragon, craving for treasures, jealously guarding his mountain of gold. In some ways, doesn’t this figure just remind you of human greediness? But this is not our topic. Or consider another literary saga, McAffrey’s series Dragonriders of Pern : there, chosen human beings can bind spiritually with dragons and become riders of justice and power. Doesn’t this slightly remind you of the moment in Cameron’s Avatar when the hero – excuse me for forgetting his name … – links his sort of hair-tail to that of the … dragon creature?
Anyway, in Asian cultures too, and most of all, dragons are still present. They’ve always been the symbol of the emperor and symbol of power they will remain. Every Spring festival we’re celebrating the dragon god by a dance lead by hyper trained acrobats. They also practice martial arts in order to do this dance : the dragon is strongly linked to the physical and mental strength required to be good at martial arts. And, coincidence or not, wasn’t Bruce Lee named “Little Dragon”? You can also find the godly creatures in other sports, the dragonboat rowing activity for instance. Have you ever seen dragon boats? They’re beautiful. This sport actually comes from a legend : the great Dragon lives in the Yellow river and to honour him, the celebration and competition of the boats is organized each year.
They are plenty of other instances, but I wish to conclude this short series on dragons with Cartier’s last advertisement,L’Odyssée… just amazing. Please endorse the skin of a snow panther and meet with the great golden dragon.
March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
Back with a bag full of stories. The previous post was about dragons in western cultures. Today it’s going to address dragons in Asia. Of course, everybody perfectly knows that Chinese, Japanese or Corean dragons don’t look at all like European ones. First physical characteristic, they don’t have any wings – but still, they can fly. I suppose most of you, dear readers, know about the Japanese cartoon Dragon Ball Z… there’s a master dragon in there, and he’s the God of the universe.
In Asia, Dragons are also symbols of pure power, but they have always been considered as protective and almighty. They’re a symbol of equilibrium, often represented with the yin-yang. Legends have it that when the sun rises, the great dragon has opened his eyes, and when the sun sets, the dragon god is falling asleep. The dragon was born from the elements, and he is now the master of them all. He can make rain, and so serve agriculture.
Figures of dragons appear everywhere on the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing. No wonder why: the Chinese emperors used to be called Sons of the Dragon. Why? Because of the figure of power of course. Imperial dragons always have 5 claws. Dragons dedicated to noblemen have 4 or 3. Speaking of claws and dragon body parts, have a look at the picture below and try and guess from which animals the various parts of the body come from.
Shortly before Christ, a Chinese poet described precisely the Asian dragon as we know it today. As an encompassing godly creature, it had to be composed of several parts of all living animals on earth. Of course they’re not all in there, but at least, come can be distinguished. The horns are those of a deer, the hair that of a lion. The face is a camel’s, the body a snake’s, the scale belong to a fish. Dragons have eagle claws, tiger paws, bull’s ears. What else…? I must be forgetting some of them, but you see, it’s already quite impressive.
So ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, dragons in Asia have not much to do with European ones… except for the fact that they represent pure power. Next post will feature the presence of these legendary creatures in contemporary cultures…
March 4, 2012 § 1 Comment
You might have seen or guessed that one month ago, we Chinese people were celebrating the Dragon year. I’ve taken this as an opportunity to explore the figure of the dragon so I thought sharing these investigations would be interesting here on T&D. The dragon figure is ambivalent for several reasons. Creatures called dragons have been existing in various civilizations.
Let’s start with the depiction of dragons in the western world:
In Europe, the Middle-Ages portrayed it as a malevolent beast, a creature of the devil. Mouth full of blood and cruelty in the eyes, the dragon used to be the target of knights and Christian heroes. The Arthurian Legend has shown the legendary animal as the ultimate monster to face. Each knight had to fight a dragon at least once. In the Christian tales, the dragon was lurking in its lair, waiting for some nice princess to take as a prisoner. Several saints fought dragons, starting from St-George, patron saint of England. The story says he killed the devil and saved the village by doing so. He also set a dame free – as in every tale of amour courtois, a lady has to be set free by her knight.
First representation of dragons in Europe date back from the Babylonian period. On the gates of Ishtar, a dog-like figure with a snake tail was assimilated to a dragon. Later on, the dragon as we know it (winged and snake-like) appeared in Beowulf, a Saxon from the 6th century text you probably all know.
But the dragon can also be a figure of pure power, loosing its evil aspect. It is used as such in heraldry: let’s see the Welsh flag, isn’t there any better representation of a magnificent dragon? Doesn’t it give you the feeling of a powerful nation? Well, this is what dragons are about. The red dragon figuring on the Welsh flag refers to one of the founding tales in the Arthurian legend. Before Arthur was born, the land of what is now Brittany had been unduly taken over by force by Vortigern. He wanted to build a castle, but the castle would not hold and would collapse constantly. Merlin predicted that this was a sign of the coming defeat of Vortigern: two dragons were fighting under the land, a white one and a red one. The red one would stand for the rightful king – Arthur Pendragon means Dragon-Head – and would defeat the white one. And so it was…
Next dragon chronicle will be on the Asian dragon figure.
March 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
It’s been a while now. Hello winter, hello spring, Paris is still the same. My friends from Natas Loves You have released a video for their song “Light as air” a couple of weeks ago. For those who don’t know them (yet), I’ll let you discover their sound. They’ll take your for a ride through our city at the same time, meeting strange sorts of gangs and playing with a baseball. Unidentified boys and girls wandering around, uncertainty about tomorrow… but you’ve got to hang on to the heartbeat of the world.