Friday, February 19, 2021

Way of the Warrior

Edo Samurai Armour with Swan crest watercolor & ink by Meera Rao 

I was very impressed with the ceremonial samurai armor from the 1700s at the British museum. The colors and the ornamentation were very impressive. The elegant Swan crest on number of the artifacts also caught my eye. 
Edo samurai armour by Meera Rao 

From the label I gathered that metal, lacquer, leather, and horn were used to craft the beautiful suit. It made me wonder if Darth Vader’s black suit was inspired by this and other Japanese armors! I read in their blog that it took the restorers over 8 months and 250 hours to restore and repair the armour.  Do check out their blog for photos of restoration in progress and detailed notes about what was involved. 

A very interesting article Beauty in Battle: the refined artistry of samurai armor and photographs of a few different armors are at LA county museum of Art exhibit website.  There is also a great pdf  Samurai: art of armor.  for educators and students.  Here’s a little fact from there : The name “samurai,” stems from the word saburafu, meaning “to serve by one’s side.” These warriors followed a code of idealized behavior known as the “way of the warrior,” or bushido, which focused on seven virtues: honesty, courage, respect, benevolence, rectitude, honor, and loyalty. Bushidō also prescribed acceptance of death, as exemplified by the fact that samurai preferred to commit ritual suicide by disembowel- ment, known as seppuku or harakiri rather than seem disloyal or suffer a stain on their character.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Lunar New Year

NewYear Celebration, China Town, London watercolor ByMeera Rao 

A year ago we were in London in January. We bumped into a Lunar New Year celebration as we got out of the tube at Westminster Bayswater area to head to the Hyde park - a favorite playground for our grandson.  The ‘dragons’ danced in front of Chinese Restaurants and stores. The owners ‘fed’ lettuce to the dragons and then gave money in red envelopes.  I captured the festivities on video and later sketched in my travel art journal.  Fun fact is that an American of Indian heritage enjoyed a Chinese dragon dance celebrating the Asian Lunar New Year celebration in London, UK :)

“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới”

“Gong hei fat choy”


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Set In The Midst Of Knowledge

British Museum Great Court watercolor and ink Meera Rao 

‘And let thy feet millennium hence be set in the midst of knowledge’

This quote by Lord Tennyson is engraved in the floor of the beautiful and imposing Great Court of the British Museum. It is taken from his poem ‘The Two Voices’ . I read that he used to visit the Museum’s Reading Room often when it was still housed there (in the 19th century).  Above is the tessellating glass and steel grid roof giving it that airy open space look.  Check the Museum blog here to read and see photos of the engineering marvel the glass roof and the Great Court is. 

My sketch is from our visit there in 2019. The place was teaming with people but I opted to sketch just a few to show the scale. I hope to be able to travel again to see more of the museum sometime soon post Covid ! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Fierce Colors

Fierce Colors watercolor Meera Rao 

Before covid put a stop to all travel, we had visited London and this watercolor is from my travel sketchbook. I realized  I had forgotten to share those sketches. This Lion etched in glass graced the doors of British Museum in London. I loved how colors outside the door shone through and it showed me a way to paint the glass lion:)  So it’s a full circle as illustrated by a quote from Leo Steinberg : “Whatever else art is good for, it’s chief effectiveness lies in propagating more art” 

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