Singapore Sand Art Sharing – Sandpainting 2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandpainting

Native American sandpainting

In the sandpainting of southwestern Native Americans (the most famous of which are the Navajo), the Medicine Man (or Hatałii) paints loosely upon the ground of a hogan, where the ceremony takes place, or on a buckskin or cloth tarpaulin, by letting the colored sands flow through his fingers with control and skill. There are 600 to 1000 different traditional designs for sandpaintings which are known to the Navajo. They do not view the paintings as static objects, but as spiritual, living beings to be treated with great respect. More than 30 different sandpaintings may be associated with one ceremony.

The colors for the painting are usually accomplished with naturally colored sand, crushed gypsum (white), yellow ochre, red sandstone, charcoal, and a mixture of charcoal and gypsum (blue). Brown can be made by mixing red and black; red and white make pink. Other coloring agents include corn meal, flower pollen, or powdered roots and bark.

The paintings are for healing purposes only. Many of them contain images of Yeibicheii (the Holy People). While creating the painting, the medicine man will chant, asking the yeibicheii to come into the painting and help heal the patient.

When the medicine man finishes painting, he checks its accuracy. The order and symmetry of the painting symbolize the harmony which a patient wishes to reestablish in his or her life. The accuracy of a sandpainting is believed to determine its efficacy as a sacred tool. The patient will be asked to sit on the sandpainting as the medicine man proceeds with the healing chant. The sandpainting acts as a portal to attract the spirits and allow them to come and go. Sitting on the sandpainting helps the patient to absorb spiritual power, while in turn the Holy People will absorb the illness and take it away. Afterward, when the sandpainting has done its duty, it is considered to be toxic, since it has absorbed the illness. For this reason, the painting is destroyed. Because of the sacred nature of the ceremonies, the sandpaintings are begun, finished, used, and destroyed within a 12-hour period.

The ceremonies involving sandpaintings are usually done in sequences, termed ‘chants’, lasting a certain number of days depending on the ceremony. At least one fresh, new sandpainting is made for each day.

Some Navajo laws and taboos relate to the sandpaintings, and protect their holiness:

  • Women are not supposed to sing the chants associated with the yeibicheii. This is both because the ceremony has a possibility of injuring an unborn child, and because of a taboo preventing menstruating women from attending. (Many cultures considered menstruation and presence of blood to be powerful spiritual events that had to be restrained, as they represented life forces.) Post-menopausal women are more likely to be chanters or diagnosticians.
  • One is not supposed to pretend to be a medicine man creating a sandpainting, or mock the medicine man in any way by mimicking him. Both the medicine man and the yeibicheii may punish you.
  • Authentic sandpaintings are rarely photographed, so as to not disrupt the flow of the ceremony. For many reasons, medicine men will seldom allow outsiders inside a sacred ceremony. Because so many outsiders are curious about sandpainting, some medicine men may create pieces for exhibition purposes only, using reversed colors and variations. To create an authentic sandpainting solely for viewing would be a profane act. The sandpaintings for sale in shops and on the Internet are commercially produced and contain purposeful errors, as the real sandpaintings are considered sacred.
  • The earliest credited instance of traditional Navajo sandpaintings (being rendered in colored sands as opposed to tapestry or other media) being created in a permanent form for commercial sale, have been traced to the period between 1945 and 1955. The main credit is generally given to a Navajo Hatałii named Fred Stevens, Jr. (Grey Squirrel), who developed the primary method of “permatizing” for commercial sandpaintings that is still in use today.[1]
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About sanddreamer

Lawrence Koh – International sand art virtuoso and multi-disciplinary artist specialized in both the visual art and the performing art. Utilizing an awe-inspiring combination of sand, music and light, Lawrence created countless stories as a sand artist during his local and international performances as well as prestigious events such as award ceremonies, official launch, grand opening, dinner & dance, festive celebrations, meetings, seminars and anniversary celebrations. Lawrence’s performance is often graced by foreign delegates, local VIPs and international guests; while also received positive responses from notable guests such as the Former President of Singapore Mr S.R Nathan, Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister Lee Yi Shyan, Minister Heng Swee Keat, Dr Ng Eng Hen, MP Tin Pei Ling, International Model Sonia Couling, Dr Chan Mei Yoke, MP Low Yen Ling and Film Director Eric Khoo. Some of Lawrence’s notable performances: MSH International Official Thailand Opening, Gourmet Abu Dhabi, Platts Top 250, Monetary Authority of Singapore Inter Central Bank Games, OCBC Regional Seminar, United Engineers 100 Years Anniversary, Shell Groundbreaking Ceremony, National University Health System Charity Gala Dinner at Gardens by the Bay, Lee Ming Wei’s Luminous Depths Installation Opening the Peranakan Museum, NTUC U Picnic, People’s Association’s New Year Countdown, Singapore Turf Club’s SIA Cup, BCA Awards, Institute of Mental Health 85th Anniversary, Kajima 25th Anniversary, Zurich Global Life Awards, BCI Asia Awards, Daido (Japan) 110th Anniversary Commendation Ceremony and many more. Some of Lawrence’s previous clients: Mandarin Oriental, McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut, Panasonic, Singapore Armed Forces, National Heritage Board, Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, National Arts Council, Lian Beng Group Ltd, 7 Eleven, Abbott, Daikin, Melchers, Singex, National Library Board Singapore, Singapore Expo, Bosch, Ministry of Education, Sentosa, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, GlaxoSmithKline, National Healthcare Group, Sonangol, Mediacorp. Being a celebrated artist in Singapore’s entertainment and art scene, Lawrence’s career spans across theatre productions, cultural fusion performances, short films, corporate videos, television programmes, television commercials, documentaries and live concerts. Lawrence was given the honour to have a special collaboration with the renowned Bhaskar’s Arts Academy during their major theatre production “CHAKRA”, featuring a captivating fusion of Indian dance, ballet, live Indian orchestra and sand art. The performance was graced by the presence of former president Mr. S.R Nathan and the tickets sold out completely; receiving standing ovation from the audience. Under National Arts Council’s request and support, “CHAKRA” was restaged once again at the Toa Payoh Amphitheatre with Lawrence being part of the National Arts Council’s “Arts for All” programme. Lawrence’s collaboration journey with Bhaskar’s Arts Academy also includes “Nalanda” a multi-disciplinary theatre production at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay and “Ramayana” during the Diwali Festival of Lights Performance in Wellington, New Zealand. Lawrence captivated the audience once again with veteran storyteller Kamini Ramachandran and live fusion musicians (keyboardist Serene, bansuri flutist Ragha and table player Kumaran) during two sold out performances of “Forest Fables” – a multi-disciplinary English theatre production presented by Esplanade Theatres on the Bay. Under the invitation from Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Lawrence performed his very own live concerts with the amazing “Tze N Looking Glass Orchestra” with talented string ensemble from ACS Independent during “Celebrate December 2013”. The performance was extremely well-received with full house for all three shows. Amidst his sand art journey, Lawrence and his sand art has received numerous article features and write-ups on Straits Times, Lian He Zao Bao, Business Times, AsiaOne.com, 8 Days Magazine and Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery’s “Awaken Magazine”. Lawrence and his sand art were also featured extensively on Singapore’s television programmes. He was featured as a guest artist on Mediacorp Okto channel’s “Art Bites” and “Arts.Music.Performances”; in which he performed his original sand art with DJ Shawn Fluctuate. Subsequently, Lawrence’s sand art also caught the attention of Mediacorp’s “Artless Travelled Season 2” – an award winning international documentary about the lesser seen art forms of Asia, with Lawrence and his performances being featured on the show as one of Singapore’s unique art forms. Other television involvements of Lawrence includes the Starhub E-City’s television commercials as well as Mediacorp Channel 5 and Suria Channel’s “Remembering SARS” - a telemovie that featured Lawrence’s sand art portraying the stories of Singapore’s battle against SARS. With great privilege, Lawrence’s original sand animation tribute film to Singapore was featured on Vasantham Central’s Tamil News, Channel NewsAsia’s official Facebook page, as well as Channel NewsAsia’s “Singapore @ 6” and “Singapore Tonight”. On top of that, Lawrence was also invited to be the guest artist on Channel NewsAsia’s “AM Live!” and “Artyfacts”. He is also honored to be invited to perform on Mediacorp Suria Channel’s “Fiesta Muzik” – a prestigious live telecast music concert featuring popular artists from Singapore and Indonesia. Mr Aubeck Kam, Singapore's Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Dr Basuki Yusuf Iskandar, Indonesia's Secretary-General of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, attended “Fiesta Muzik” as the Guests-of-Honour. “Fiesta Muzik” was broadcasted as a live telecast on Singapore and Indonesia’s TV channels with Lawrence’s performance receiving excellent responses.
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