Mulan loved my Mulan pen!
She said, “I love things that have my face on it.”
Wow, Mulan, conceited much ;). Seems like you may have been spending some time with Gaston!
SHOOTS LIKE MULAN
WEARS MEN’S SUITS LIKE MULAN!
THINKS FAST AND KICKS ASS ON A ROOF LIKE MULAN
MULAN: “I USE AVALANCHES IN ALL OF MY BATTLE SCHEMIIIING!”
NOT QUITE A GUY, THAT MULAN!
WHEN I WAS A GIRL I DRANK 3 CUPS OF TEA
EVERY MORNING TO HELP ME GROW STRONG
NOW I’VE GROWN UP I DRINK FIVE CUPS OF TEA
AND I DEFEATED THE KING OF THE HUUUUUUUNS
This is the best thing ever.
A white girl wore a bindi at Coachella. And, then my social media feeds went berserk. Hashtagging the term “cultural appropriation” follows the outrage and seems to justify it at the same time. Except that it doesn’t.
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of a specific part of one culture by another cultural group. As I (an Indian) sit here, eating my sushi dinner (Japanese) and drinking tea (Chinese), wearing denim jeans (American), and overhearing Brahm’s Lullaby (German) from the baby’s room, I can’t help but think what’s the big deal?
The big deal with cultural appropriation is when the new adoption is void of the significance that it was supposed to have — it strips the religious, historical and cultural context of something and makes it mass-marketable. That’s pretty offensive. The truth is, I wouldn’t be on this side of the debate if we were talking about Native American headdresses, or tattoos of Polynesian tribal iconography, Chinese characters or Celtic bands.
Why shouldn’t the bindi warrant the same kind of response as the other cultural symbols I’ve listed, you ask? Because most South Asians won’t be able to tell you the religious significance of a bindi. Of my informal survey of 50 Hindu women, not one could accurately explain it’s history, religious or spiritual significance. I had to Google it myself, and I’ve been wearing one since before I could walk.
We can’t accuse non-Hindus of turning the bindi into a fashion accessory with little religious meaning because, well, we’ve already done that. We did it long before Vanessa Hudgens in Coachella 2014, long before Selena Gomez at the MTV Awards in 2013, and even before Gwen Stefani in the mid-90s.
Indian statesman Rajan Zed justifies the opposing view as he explains, “[The bindi] is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol… It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory…” If us Indians had preserved the sanctity and holiness of the bindi, Zed’s argument for cultural appropriation would have been airtight. But, the reality is, we haven’t.
The 5,000 year old tradition of adorning my forehead with kumkum just doesn’t seem to align with the current bindi collection in my dresser — the 10-pack, crystal-encrusted, multi-colored stick-on bindis that have been designed to perfectly compliment my outfit. I didn’t happen to pick up these modern-day bindis at a hyper-hipster spot near my new home in California. No. This lot was brought from the motherland itself.
And, that’s just it. Culture evolves. Indians appreciated the beauty of a bindi and brought it into the world of fashion several decades ago. The single red dot that once was, transformed into a multitude of colors and shapes embellished with all the glitz and glamor that is inherent in Bollywood. I don’t recall an uproar when Indian actress Madhuri Dixit’s bindi was no longer a traditional one. Hindus accepted the evolution of this cultural symbol then. And, as the bindi makes it’s way to the foreheads of non-South Asians, we should accept — even celebrate — the continued evolution of this cultural symbol. Not only has it managed to transcend religion and class in a sea of one-billion brown faces, it will now adorn the faces of many more races. And that’s nothing short of amazing.
So, you won’t find this Hindu posting a flaming tweet accusing a white girl of #culturalappropriation. I will say that I’m glad you find this aspect of my culture beautiful. I do too.
Why a Bindi Is NOT an Example of Culture Appropriation
by Anjali Joshi
Tajikistan’s Various Folk Costumes (x)
Starting from left to right:
1: Womenswear of Leninabad/Khujand
2: Womenswear of Leninabad/Khujand
3: Menswear of Leninabad/Khujand
4: Regular vintage wear of a Tajik resident.
Southern Tajikistan / Lowlands of Tajikistan
5: Modern bridal costume from Kulob & Vintage mourning costume of a young woman from Karatag.
6: Modern costumes of a young woman from Nushor & Qal’ai Khumb.
7: Vintage costume of a young woman from Darvaz & festive costume of a young woman from Darvaz.
8: Vintage costume of an elder peasant from Darvaz & jewelry of a Tajik woman from mountainous regions.
9: Vintage costume of a young woman from Rushon & Vintage bridal costume from Shughnon.
10: Modern costume of an elder peasant from Shughnon & Modern bridal costume from Iskoshin.
Process work for my Animystics illustration, all the way back from the start when I was considering doing a porcupine :B
fav person of the day
because actually helping people with cosplay emergencies!
literally the most important man at supanova this year
he gave me double sided tape
what a good human being
petition to have a designated Captain Patch-It at all cons from now on.
Every con needs a squad of these guys.
sit your butt down quetzalcoatl was one of my favorite mythological deities when i was younger lets talk about this thing
its a mesoamerican god whose name translates to feathered serpent in several mayan languagues (most notably nahuatl) who originated from between 400-600 ce as a main figure in a religion known as cholula, although it didnt gain its name until a while later
in aztec culture it was credited with the creation of mankind, and as it had the power of flight, was a symbol for wind and represented the boundry between earth and sky. it was also the patron god of the priesthood, bringing knowledge to the devout (it symbolized other things as well, but the mythology changed as it was passed through different cultures)
it also had different forms, notably ehacatl, who was the aspect of quetzalcoatl that represented the wind
but of course, its more recognized appearance is
theres actually a lot of feathered serpents that appear throughout mesoamerican history, although not all of them are confirmed to be quetzalcoatl. its interesting to note that the first representations of the god are completely serpentine, and its only as the myth progresses that it gains human features and the ability to take an anthropomorphic form
quetzalcoatl is ALSO the name of a fake looking red and green bird with insanely long tail feathers
and quezalcoatlus is the name of a pterosaur with a ridiculous body and weird ass head
boop doop and now you know
Alright this is great but I’m going to add some stuff because it’s neat and you need to know it because this shit is interesting but also confusing as fuck I swear:
Náhuatl is not a Maya language, it was actually spoken by the people known as the Aztecs (Also known as the “Mexica”).
The Maya are more ancient and had their own separate language, they came to speak hundreds of dialects, the root is commonly just called “maya”, tho.
The name of that bird is actually just “Quetzal”, from the náhuatl quetzalli, which can be translated to “covered in feathers” or “tail covered in feathers” (“cōātl” means “serpent”, hence quetzalcōātl’s name).
As you said there are several feathered serpents, Quetzalcoatl is an Aztec deity:
Kukulkán, for example, is a far more ancient deity, it’s also related to the wind, thunder and rain. “Kukulkán” is a maya deity (k’ukulk’an: k’u’uk’um"feather" and kaan "serpent"), it’s also present in olmec and toltec culture, and it might have been where Quetzalcoatl came from, it’s often depicted as a serpent with its mouth open with a person emerging from inside. Wtf but awesome.
Either way the feathered serpent seemed to be hugely important all through mesoamerican history and became very widespread, each deity has different attributes depending on where they are (water and rain vs the sun and so on), quetzalcoatl did become hugely important all over.
Bonus thing: This is one confusing but amazing thing about mesoamerican deities, if they represent water, for example, they are not just “god of rain” or something like that, they are “the very rain that touches the earth and is absorbed, and also underground water in caves and moisture”, they have incredibly specific attributes and there is not just a single deity per thing ever.
and finally the Quetzalcoatlus is amazing and one of my favorites ever, just look at this huge dork:
I want to ride it forever.
Happy Easter! Here are some song bird egg cookies to celebrate the holiday. More photos and info on my Pipio blog.
a quickie doodle for you!! happy easter!