Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Fall of Crete

So I picked up some leafs of papyrus from the British Museum a while back and have been intending to use them for ages. Well I say papyrus, I've heard modern ones tend to be made of banana leaves, but close enough. I also got a calligraphy set for Christmas complete with coloured inks, and have been studying Minoan Crete recently. So I decided to combine these things.

The first thing to do was decide what to put on it - which is when I remembered that in some of the latter periods the Minoans got really into drawing octopi. Then the Minoan civilisation mysteriously collapsed, and we're not entirely sure why. Since 'invaded by Mycenaeans' is boring I went with the obvious answer and put together this piece. The Cthulhu is - slightly loosely - based on some of the designs on Minoan pottery, though a bit less wavy (partly because I wasn't looking at the reference at the time), but I chopped off a pair of arms and enlarged the 'beak' bit, which I think makes the whole thing a bit more insect-like. Not quite what I intended but alien is good. I did actually include dots along the arms, though I made them less clear than the suckers you normally see. If you look closely you can see they're blue and green.

The bull is likewise based off pottery art, as are the shields, though I made up the colouration and the design of the middle shield.

The city and the ships was based off this Minoan wall painting, though the less detailed image of the ships was based on the sort seen in wax seals. I tried to have the side on the right be rubble but I'm not sure how clear it was.

Finally the writing is copied from tablets of Linear A, the written form of the Minoan language. fortunately its undecipherable, so you can't tell at a glance that its gibberish. 

Before writing on it I tried to stain the papyrus to make it a little less fresh looking. The colour utterly failed to take but wetting and then drying it did cause it to crinkle up and gave it a nicely distressed look - though it did make it somewhat harder to work with. I drew it all on in pencil first, then inked over it - though you can see from the bits at the top I was using too much ink at first. some of the colours - especially the green, are rather too bright to look three thousand years old - I'd try to fade it with sunlight but unfortunately I live in England. So I'll just say it was unusually well preserved. Which it would have to be anyway since as far as we know, Minoans didn't use Papyrus (if they DID it didn't survive the climate. Maybe this was sealed in a pot or something). Likewise the smudged bits are clearly an indication that it was transcribed in a hurry, or by someone of disturbed mental state.

The idea in my mind was to depict the fall of the Minoan civilisation as being a clash between two godlike beings - one bull headed the other the familiar octopus. However hopefully I made it abstract enough people can interpret it in different ways.

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