Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turban making and Principles of Art course

             During the last Gaura Purnima festival in Mayapur I had the opportunity, along with my mother Srimati devi dasi, to attend a turban making course given by Kurma Caitanya prabhu. Although we were used to make turbans for deities, clothe them and make floral decoration in different temples over the last 15 years, we decided to attend that course motivated by the curiosity to learn how to give people a type of knowledge which for us was considered intuitive and abstract.

           On several occasions, devotees asked us to teach our work and my mom has even  presented a workshop on flower arranging at the last Vaisnavi Retreat in Vrajabhumi Dham. However, although when we looked at a particular decoration we knew it was smooth, it had movement, or its elements were proportional, we didn't have the tools to train others on how to develop this aesthetic sense.
           And they came through Kurma Caitanya prabhu! Because of this course, we have improved our seva, developed the ability to share it with other devotees and most importantly, realized that our knowledge should never be considered sufficient and should always seek to improve our service to Krishna. And the tools for this are endless! So let's talk about them:

       When we look at Krishna's turban we can firstly notice the elements of art, they are:


  ●               -  Point: is the simplest element of art. It's dimensionless.

      - Line: is a continuous mark made on a surface by a
      moving point. It is dimensional.

   - Shape: a closed area defined and limited by other elements of  art. It is 2-dimensional.
- Form: is a 3-dimensional object or something in a 2-dimensional artwork that appears to have 3 dimensions.


- Color
- Texture
- Brightness


- The distance between two elements.

Let us understand in practice what these concepts represent:

      Regarding geometry, we can note mukuts (red arrows) representing lines that converge and unite on one point: the white flower (green arrow). From there the lines go on through the thread of red/ golden beads (blue arrow), leading your gaze to the left side of Krishna where we find Srimati Radharani! You see, the objective of this turban is to drive your sight to the beloved consort of Krishna. The elements that provide it you will see later in this topic MOVEMENT. 

      The shapes are represented here by the lateral mukuts (yellow arrow) plus the mukuts that are forming the lines. We can also identify the  filling elements as color, brightness and texture and also the space (eg between the beads / blue arrow and Mukuts / yellow arrow and there is also space between the main arrangement of mukuts  and the left one as well). It is noteworthy that it is very important keep these strategic spaces to give rest to the eyes and the turban does not look like a jumble of things.

Principles of Art - how we organize the elements of art. They are:

BALANCE - The way the elements are arranged to create a felling of stability in a work. It means keeping the focus on the center. Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

- Symmetry: the parts of an image are organized so that one side mirrors the other

In the picture of Sri Gadadhara we can see the symmetrical turban style:

         - Asymmetry: when one side of a composition does not reflect the design of the other side. To maintain the balance in the asymmetrical style, the bigger element  should get close to the center, so that it is easier to balance it with  smaller elements on the other side, because we do not want the deity looking like Mickey Mouse! (There is this kind of turban, you can see pujaris using them during the elephants procession, but this is not the effect we want to create!)

Sri Madhava's turban style is asymmetrical:

      An important observation is that the turban should be balanced so that the attention turns to what is in the center of it: the face of the deity. One way to do this is using elements of EMPHASIS (what you'll see below) to create the figure of a triangle, so that attention will turn to its center.

     We have an example above with the three yellow marigolds creating a triangular effect where the focus (center) is the face of Gadadhara prabhu. In this case, instead of equal flowers, you could use different elements of emphasis to achieve a more interesting and less obvious effect as you can notice in the next photo:

     In the Nityananda's turban we have the same triangular effect, where the vertices are formed by arranging mukuts in the center of the head and floral ornaments on both side of His face.

PROPORTION - is the comparative relationship of one side to another with respect to size, quantity or degree. The turban should not be bigger than the size of the deity's face, because the idea is don't distract the eyes with what is too big.

3.       MOVEMENT – our eyes seem to move along the lines.

        Straight lines create more tension.

     Curved lines are more playful
              When the lines converge to a point that is more dynamic..

       When the lines are parallel it is less dynamic.

        In the example below we see movement (curved lines) and dynamism (converging to a point) that the pearl thread give the turban leading your eyes to slide over them.


         Besides beads, you can use flowers, clothes of different colors and mukuts to create movement. Below the movement occurs through the line of yellowish  white jasmine:

Movement created by mukuts row starting at the center 
of Sri Sri Gadadhara and  Nityananda's turban :

Here the lines are created using the bar of the very turban's fabric. 

 To give more sense of movement you can just add lines. This can be done using strips of different colors of fabric as the first picture below, or making pleats as in the second:

Note: You can get lines mixing fabric (can be interspersed creating RYTHM as explained in next topic), threads, mukuts and flowers as in the example below:

 RYTHM  –  It's related with the regular repetition of elements to produce the look and feel of movement. You can get have a preview of the next element.

You can get rythm:


             Combined with movement.

       Onthe left and inferiorly you can see a interwoven of red and yellow fabric, creating a rythm two colors variation, while this element includes the lines of the turban, along with the pearls and the bands of tissue below them.


             With different sizes.

            Here we see rhythm created with different sizes of mukuts (arrowheads) progressing from the bigger at the top of the head to the smaller beside the flute.

             Scattered ( sense that something is falling down).


     Above we have the RYTHM created by pearls scattered in the central region of the turban. This effect could also be obtained by using different sizes of flowers spreading down by the hair of the deity, as here:

Note: Tor get rhythm, elements needn't have the same size or shape.

EMPHASIS - is when one element stands out. You can get emphasis using color, brightness, size, etc.

C         Here we see that the main element (the one that is in most evidence) - the arrangement of central mukuts, stands out both by the size and the brightness. Since the secondary element (the second in evidence) - the arrangement of mukuts on the right, stands out by its size. You could get it by using emphasis elements (fans, flowers, mukuts etc.) of vibrant colors.

       CONTRAST - a big difference between two things to create interest and tension. It is very common to use color contrast, but can also be used contrast of textures (eg satin x chiffon), size etc.

6.   UNIT - when all the elements and principles are connected, work together to create an pleasing image.

 -     1- Blow lines  - create a weak sense of unity.
       2- Touching lines - create a stronger sense of unity.
       3- Lines converging to a point or parallel - create a sense of unity even stronger (remember that the left design has more dynamism than the second, because of what has already been explained in the topic movement).


Unit based on similarity - weaker effect.

Unit based connections - stronger effect .

      Using this turban again we see a strong sense of unit created by the main arrangement of mukuts that converge to a central point (represented by the flower). It creates a great dynamism and we have the feeling of an explosion from this point.

VARIETY - use of different elements to enhance the visual interest of the work.


                  In the example above, all elements with the same size look  flatened, boring. In the below example the elements with different sizes create a sense of depth, are more interesting.

          In  the turban that follows, the flowers have different sizes, creating a sense of depth,  three dimensionality, which would not occur if they had all the same size.

9.       TRANSITIONS - It's how you move your eyes and can be abrupt or gradual:

·                     On the left drawing we have an abrupt pause in the transition elements while on the right we have a gradual transition, which is more sophisticated. Note the following turban, the subtle transition of the lines formed by the beads (red arrows), kadamba for flowers (roses arrows) and finally by the mukuts (green arrows).

Looking to the right of the turban, another example of the gradual transition of beads, flowers and mukuts:

HARMONY - is a classic concept related to the idea of beauty, proportion and order. The forms are composed not randomly, but so that the shapes and fillings are well defined, making them pleasing to the eye. Using the other principles already mentioned, we can achieve harmony and seek inspiration for this by observing nature!

                                                     Turban Structure 

       Using the elements and principles of art, we can summarize the structure of the turban as follows:

Turban Styles

      With the basic structure illustrated in the drawing above, you can get different styles of turbans as clothe turban, mukuts turban, floral turban and the classical (combination of others). Below is a step by step in which Kurma Caitanya prabhu quickly teaches how to make a simple classic style turban.

Foam strip that is put around the head to give the turban shape and to prevent pins from poking the Lord

The clothe

Adding mukut pieces and jewelry

The final turban.

Other styles: Turban with clothe structure

 Turban with floral structure.

Turban with mukuts structure.

     Now just use these tools along with your creativity and put it into practice! To train the eyes, you can go back to the beginning of this article and observe the turban pictures looking for lines, shapes, movement, elements of emphasis, variety, rhythm etc in all of them. The photographs used were taken from the site: http://mayapur.com/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=134 where you can get endless examples to inspire and to continue your study! The step by step above is on: http://mayapuracademy.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/steps-to-turban-making/

    It is noteworthy that the principles of art can be used not only to make turbans but also to dress the deities, making flower arrangements, decorations, etc. So let's work and good luck!

Your servant

Vaisnava Krpa devi dasi

1 comentários:

Nameda said...

thanks a lot :) that was very helpful.
Do you have eventually a video on how to wrap a turban? with a single or more cloth pieces, specially for smaller (home) deities? thanks a lot

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