Monday, July 28, 2008

Kurma, Gamera, and Turtle Island

Photos, plus some reading about turtles, of a mural I recently painted at my son's pre-school in Ann Arbor, MI

In Hinduism, Kurma (Sanskrit: कुर्म) was the second avatar of Vishnu. Like the Matsya Avatara also belongs to the Satya yuga. Vishnu took the form of a half-man half-tortoise, the lower half being a tortoise. He is normally shown as having four arms. He sat on the bottom of the ocean after the Great Flood. A mountain was placed on his back by the other gods so that they could churn the sea and find the ancient treasures of the Vedic peoples.

Gamera (ガメラ, Gamera?) is a giant, flying turtle-like creature with flames flying out of the leg holes, from a popular series of daikaiju eiga monster movies produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company in Japan. Created in 1965 to rival the success of Toho Studios' Godzilla during the kaiju boom of the mid-to-late 1960s, Gamera has gained fame and notoriety as a Japanese icon in his own right.
In the United States, Gamera attained prominence during the 1970s due to the burgeoning popularity of UHF television stations featuring Saturday afternoon matinee showcases like Creature Double Feature and later in the 1990s when several of his movies were featured on the cult television program Mystery Science Theater 3000.


Turtle Island is the English language translation of many Native American tribes' terms for the continent of North America. The term is proposed as a substitute for or synonym for North America. The term was brought into popular usage by Gary Snyder through his book Turtle Island[1] in 1974. In a later essay, published in At Home on the Earth,[1] Snyder claimed this title as a term referring to North America which synthesizes both indigenous and colonizer cultures by translating the indigenous name into the colonizer's languages (the Spanish "Isla Tortuga" being proposed as a name as well). Snyder argues that understanding North America under the name of Turtle Island will help shift conceptions of the continent.
Referring to North America as Turtle Island suggests a view of North America not merely as a land "discovered" and colonized by people of European descent, but as a land inhabited and stewarded by a collection of rich, diverse, and civilized peoples. This collection may have room for both indigenous and colonizer cultures. This re-framing of the identity of North America is intended to bring about a better cohabitation of these two groups of people. Finally the term suggests to some interpreters a more holistic relationship between people and the continent's ecology, visualizing Turtle Island as an amalgamation of bioregions.
All Turtle Trivia taken from Wikipedia.

I also painted a smaller mural across from the turtle with tree of a tiger and elephant:

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