Wednesday, November 23, 2011

King Under Mountain--Fourth Year Thesis

For as long as human beings have recited stories to one another, the truths of history became legend and legend yielded to myth, creating what the modern era calls pseudo history. More than often these episodes of ancestral history participate in the development of a nation. The prominent King in the Mountain, King Under Mountain or Sleeping Hero motif is one of many in folklore and mythology which gives hope to the resurrection of beloved historical figures, usually of some military consequence, who will transcend time and space to secure their loyalties and act as guardian to the future nation.

These legendary undead heros, often accompanied by armied retainers/legions, sleep in remote and covert dwellings which include caves, mountaintops, islands or mystical worlds. It is foretold that they will waken at the hour of their country’s greatest need. The presence of the hero goes unsuspected until a herdsman or meandering passerby enters the cave unknowingly and chances upon him. In nearly every tale, the hero has become withered by centuries of sleeping under the mountain and has grown a long beard. The witness is in most cases supernaturally harmed by the experience, especially if his actions cause a disservice to the resting King, or worse, rouses him to wake. A far cry from the familiar Sleeping Beauty tale isn’t it? The King Under Mountain motif still resonates with us in contemporary times with the hopeful return of such famed entertainment figures as Elvis Presley or Tupac Shakur.

As part of my fourth year thesis proposal, I plan to create a Japanese fold accordion book that will feature at least 8-10 illustrations of sleeping warriors, complete with full-page descriptions of each character and their respected nations. Potential candidates are as follows (or more specifically, those that caught my interest):

1) Holger Danske--Denmark
2) Bolesław I Chrobry and his retinue of knights--Poland
3) Frederick Barbarossa--Germany
4) Bran the Blessed--Wales
5) Brynhildr--Scandinavia (Viking Lore)
6) King Arthur--England
7) King Sebastian--Portugal
8) Vytautas, the Great--Lithuania
9) Väinämöinen--Finland (Hero of National Kalevala)
10) Lāčplēsis “Bear-Slayer”--Latvia
11) Toell the Great--Estonia
12) Kralj Matjaž --Slovenia
13) Seven Queens of Sindh--Pakistan
14) Prince Marko Kraljević--Serbia
15) Casaba, son of Attila the Hun--Hungary
16) Kukai, 9th century Buddhist monk--Japan
17) Fenibeso, first sole ruler of Okrika (Nigeria)--Africa
18) Golem of Prague--Ukraine
19) Wenceslaus I--Czech Republic
20) Thomas the Rhymer--Scotland
21) Gearoidh Iarla (Earl Gerald)--Ireland
22) Theseus--Greece
23) Tecumseh, Native American leader of the Shawnee--Canada
Every few weeks I will be posting process work and finished portraits of each of these sleepers. Stay tuned!

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