Entry 1 by Joanna

My idea is a doll based on the character Lavinia Andronicus, from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.

Lavinia, similar to the legend of Philomel (nightingale), is raped and then has her tongue cut out so she cannot accuse the rapists. However, Lavinia also has her hands cut off so she cannot write their names either. In the play, she is finally given branches to hold with her mouth and stumps, and then can write the names of the men in blood.

It is, of course, horrific....but in a strange way I think the mutilation becomes a sign of empowerment. She cannot disguise that a horrible thing was done to her, and in the end achieves her vengeance. (Well, everyone dies---it's Shakespeare's goriest play.)

In addition to the arms and mouth, I semi-sketched (I'm not a visual artist but a musician, so this was tough) a nightingale silhouette that could be used as a tattoo on her body. I'm sure there are many much more beautiful tattoos out there...but I did want the moon involved because of the nightingale's association with the night.

Entry 2, a take on Hua Mulan by Joanna

This is sort of close to my heart----the version of Mulan I grew up with was a bit bloodier than the popular Disney version. Mulan's village is nearly destroyed, and she tells her parents that she will fight in her father's place. As a blessing/curse/reminder of her burden, her parents carve the names of the dead villagers in her back. The scars of the dead names is a constant reminder of her mission and role.

When I turned 21 I got a tattoo of my family's surname (in Chinese) on my back, because I am the first generation to be born in America. It is VERY easy to forget my parents' culture and the rest of my family and heritage, so my tattoo was a deliberate effort to remember and remind myself where I'm from.

I looked up the style of calligraphy for the Northern Wei dynasty (the estimated dynasty of the original Mulan legend) and the words I wrote should approximate that style.

The face...well, I'm awful at faces.

I thought two costumes might be appropriate....after all, Mulan returned to domestic life after her warrior duties were done. Or maybe she's better as a nude doll with the tattoo as her only adornment. In any case, I tried to sketch a dress appropriate to the time period.

The common theme with the Lavinia Andronicus submission is the idea of scars providing some eventual empowerment. As far as I know, Mulan wasn't particularly enthused about having hundreds of names carved into her skin....a visible, permanent, painful reminder of her identity. But she embraced it and became legend.

Entry 3, Cassandra, the prophetess of Troy by Joanna

According to some legend she was loved by Apollo, who granted her the gift of prophesy through temple snakes that licked her ears clean so she could hear the future. She spurned his love, however, and as a curse, while she would always tell the truth, no one would believe her. She foresaw the fall of Troy but of course, nobody heeded her words. She is often given a torch (the future light) and I added the snake because...well, it fit with the legend.

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Copyright © 2011 Marina Bychkova.