Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yin Yang: Lotus Flower

One of my favorite charms, or symbols to work with is the lotus flower.  Not too frilly, has just a little sparkle to it when done in silver, adds that 'other world' touch to a pattern.  I saw a lot of lotus symbolism while traveling in India, which has made its way into many of my jewelry patterns. 

I found this hammered silver charm at my local bead store and have used it in a number of patterns.  The one to the right I used with long tear drop, jade stones.  I used the same charms in the pair (below) with dainty pink mystic quartz and Bali beads for accent.  Again, just a simple pair to highlight the charm. The colors and style seemed the right balance to me based on what I saw in India.

The traditional Buddhist explanation for lotus flower history is that 'the glorious lotus flower appears to spring not from the sordid earth but from the surface of the water and is always pure no matter how impure the water may be.' 

Some say that the perfection above the surface in contrast to the mud beneath represents yin yang, or the concept used to describe how polar opposites (or seemingly contrary forces) are interconnected and interdependent. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other.

We visited a beautiful temple in India shaped in the form of a lotus flower. Large, magnificent, single structure with a reflecting pool.  At night it casts an alternate shadow of the temple out across the water. Absolutely stunning.

As with any of the temples, shrines, mosques or places of worship in India ... you start with removing your shoes.  One thing that stands out in my mind from our travels through India were the rows, upon rows of abandoned shoes lining the entrances of these places. This particular one is an active place of worship for the Baha'i faith in India.  India's version of a cult, but don't take my word for it -- check the link.  
At the Baha'i Temple the lines are long with streams of people wandering through.  All barefoot, all quiet and organized.  The entire place is white marble (the steps, the walkway, the inside walls, the domes). Once inside it is almost church-like with rows (or pews) facing the center of the structure. The white in a lotus flower (a significant color in Asian thought) represents the state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity.

The marble is indigenous in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan with 56 million tons and 40,000 laborers working 400 local mines.  Seriously.  There was marble absolutely everywhere we went in Rajasthan ... it is as prevalent as building wood houses in Pacific Northwest. 

We drove through the district with stacks of marble slabs as far as the eye could see.  Many places in India are made from this marble including the famous Taj Mahal.

I do love using the lotus flower.  And you'll find it in many of my patterns.  I used it with the simple bracelet to the right. And you'll also see it in my previous blog on a turquoise bracelet.  It adds just that little extra touch.

This bracelet is a simple double strand bracelet using top of the line Miyuki seed beads in black and accent reds.  It brings out the pattern of the single, white, speckled lampwork focal bead. I added a simple lotus flower charm to balance the yin yang pattern of opposite colors between black and white.  

Red is also significant in Asian culture.  In China it is the symbol of celebration and luck, and in India it symbolizes purity (thus used extensively in Indian wedding outfits), and it signifies joy when combined with white in Eastern culture.


Miss Val's Creations said...

Interesting post. The lotus flower is such a beautiful symbol. I love these charms and they are perfect for earrings! I love Rajasthan silver findings. They do such gorgeous work!!

AntiquityTravelers said...

Indeed! I loved traveling through Rajasthan, specifically Jaipur where many of the stones are mined. Absolutely beautiful part of the country

Juniper Goods said...

Oh I love the lotus and your post is full of knowledge! Thanks :) your earrings are beautiful!
I found you from the Artisan Whimsy. Iam a wire wrap jewelry artist.

Have a great day!

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