Sketch of the week #20: Mask of Marduk

10 years, 6 months ago 35


As a little girl, I was enchanted by the idea of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I still am. They seem almost magical because they are so utterly shrouded in mystery and myth. They are considered a wonder of the world, and yet their existence has not even been proven. The legendary ancient city of Babylon has the same, entrancing effect on me and for several years I’ve been thinking of a way to translate that into an Enchanted Doll project.

This is how, around a year ago, the Mask Project was born. These are the concept sketches. The mask is just a work in progress tittle for a doll named Amytis of Media, the wife of a Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar the 2nd. The legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens around 600 BC for his wife, who was home sick for her luscious, mountainous  homeland of Persia.

The mask head ornament worn by Amytis is a representation of God Marduk, the head deity of Babylon. Like I mentioned before, this mask was inspired partially by ancient Aztec art, as well as early Mesopotamian artifacts. Marduk was a god of judgment and magic and had a water element associated with him. His origins are somewhat unclear, and the information about his physical appearance is pretty much limited to a couple of images of him. My interpretation of Marduk was mainly driven by the sound of his name and the images it stirred in my mind. It sounded aggressive and strong, and when I found that he was a god of judgment, I had decided to give him a somewhat malevolent look, because gods generally possess  both benevolence and cruelty in their personalities and acts.

I imagined Amytis wearing this elaborate headpiece in the image of Marduk, as well as other splendid, richly ornamented clothing and jewelry as she strolls through the green, shadowed alleys of the Hanging Gardens, enjoying the relative coolness and listening to the sounds of birds in this artificially created paradise- her husband’s gift to her.

35 Responses

  1. daniseyu says:

    I also like to grab inspiration from ancient civilizations

  2. Annina says:

    I can picture those hanging gardens in the eye of my mind, how very inspiring! loved your description of your project and that mask is amazing!

  3. I liked reading the last paragraph you wrote… the way you envision Amytis in the garden… and the crown itself is such an intricate and incredible piece.
    When I was eight I was convinced I wanted to become an archaeologist simply because I was so entranced by ancient civilisations and myths…

    These sketches are a real treat to see… even more precious are the thoughts you provide along with them.

  4. Rachel Bjork says:

    I’m very excited about this…I hope I don’t have to wait too terribly long.
    I’m always so amazed by ancient Myan/Aztec history….it always feels so mysterious and forbidden.

  5. cynthia says:

    Nice sketches! I especially like the profile. It would be interesting to photograph the finished doll in a garden featuring miniature/dwarf type plants. I planted a bog garden in a large, shallow pot and filled it with carnivorous plants. The effect was somewhat otherworldly, perfect for a tiny queen.

  6. Eva says:

    I love your interpretation of the story and of the god’s image. It lends an amazing richness to the doll that you’re building and to her long lost world.

  7. Jayne Wourms says:

    Do you sleep ever?? I can’t even imagine how you do with all these wonderful projects filtering in and out of your busy brain!

  8. Marina says:

    Sometimes i sleep a little bit. Not very often though. All the time I wish that there were some sort of safe and effective drugs that will help me eliminate sleep out of my schedule all together.

  9. MissLK says:

    Do sleep!
    Your dreams are full of inspirations, too.
    Will you create a new face sculpt for Amytis? Will she bear any tattoo? I cannot wait to see your next solo.

  10. Paige says:

    I love what look like face tattoos in the sketches. Your tattoo work is so stunning. I can’t wait to see them, if they are tattoos.

    Seeing your sketches is also inspirational for me. I have set myself the goal of sketching all my work from now on. Thanks in large part to you, so I love the reminder.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us your process. The glimpses you give into your mind are always so crisp, beautiful and humbling.

  11. oooo…I can’t wait to see this mask come to fruition Marina. The sketch looks awesome.

  12. Kimmi says:

    Marina, your work is fantastic, but go take a nap. Your obsessed fans can wait long enough for you to get some rest. Lol :)

  13. Annina says:

    can we Kimmi, can we?

    just kidding, hehe ;)

  14. Andres says:

    dear marina, you are awesome, in the face

  15. Saskia says:

    Her profile is so beautiful, I can’t *wait* to the her face sculpted.

  16. Jayne Wourms says:

    There is a drug to keep someone awake for up to 40 hours at a time! It is called Modafinil… used mostly by military during missions and narcolepstic.

  17. bobby sandhu says:

    One can make out the Aztec and Chinese influences in the design of the mask..

  18. Sonia Anne S says:

    Marina, you have a wonderfully magical mind! I love it!

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