PAINTING & ILLUSTRATION
How often do you look up in the sky and watch the stars?
I must tell you that I do it every day, provided there are no clouds at night. Observing the stars, the constellations, their celestial positions inspires me and makes me ponder on the nature of the universe.
Lately, one of the stars - Maia - in the group of stars called the Pleiades - inspired me to create a woman portrait, which I entitled "Maia".
Who was Maia and why one of the stars was called after her name?
There exist a mythical story of The Seven Sisters, based on Greek mythology. Maia is of the seven mythical daughters of Atlas and Pleione. The seven daughters make up the Pleiades star cluster in the sky.
Maia was the eldest sister and was known for her outstanding beauty. The story goes, that despite her beauty she was a shy woman, who preferred her own company and lived in caves. The name "Maia" means "the mother", in Latin and in other translations also "The great one" or "Nurse". Many ancient philosophers and historians were making a link between her as "Mother Earth". Maia was seen by the Romans as their spring goddess - the goddes of growing, blooming and fertility. That's why the month "May" was named after her.
Getting back to the story of Maia. She was so beautiful that Zeus liked her very much and he impregnated her. Afterwards, she conceived Hermes - the messenger god. Now, you know that it was Maia, who was the mother of Hermes.
Maia and her sisters were pursued by the hunter - Orion. The Orion's Belt is also a name of the constellation in the sky. The legend says that Zeus, in order to protect the Pleiades (the seven sisters) from Orion, changed them into flock of doves, which he then set in the heavens.
The Pleiades are visible in northern hemisphere only during autumn and winter. So, now is the perfect time for Europeans and North Americans to take a look at this group of stars. In fact, the seven sisters are located in Taurus constellation ("the bull"). Taurus, as you know, is one of the twelve zodiac signs, all of which make the constellations in the skies.
What's very interesting is that the Pleiades are among the first stars mentioned in literature. They were spoken about in ancient China, around 2350 BC and in Europe where they featured in a poem written by Hesiod in 1000 BC and in Homer's Oddyssey.
As you can see, the stars are older than mankind. They contain many mysteries and are a constant source of inspiration for many artists, including myself. I bet you didn't realize that the Japanese brand of car Subaru directly links to the Pleiades. In Japanese culture The Seven Sisters are known as "Subaru" and are ususally referred to as being seven stars. However, when the car company Subaru chose this name for their business they only depicted six stars, presumably because only six of them are visible to the naked eye.
I hope this short story, which made the basis for my painting, was captivating for you and who knows, maybe you'll start to watch the stars as well?
Wishing you a great week,