Monday, October 8, 2007

Mary as the Olive Branch.

a. (i) Mother (Series on Symbols of John, 1974. Collection of the Missions Prokura, sj. Nuerenberg.)

Hardly a typical mother-picture, some will think. Jyoti’s symbolic reflection links together (as John does) two ‘beginning’ stories: The dove that hovered over the waters of creation and brings the leafy branch that is the Mother, bowed over lovingly to cradle ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14). The cosmic egg, womb-like, motherly origin of primal life, forms the background.
The dove, ‘brooding over the face of the deep’, swoops down to touch the Mother of Jesus with that life-creating, life-redeeming potency that is the Eternal Word. As in a number of Jyoti’s paintings, the Spirit-bird descending is the revered Hamsa, or Swan, so beloved of Indian spiritual symbolism (See also Theme III). At the same time it is in the shape of the letters making up the written form of India’s ancient mystic syllable Aum, the Sound that is believed to reverberate creatively through eternity.
The Mother herself is not only an olive-branch, brought back by the dove when searching for a place of refuge. She seems almost like a flower-bud, yet to burst out into blossom. And her Saviour-child is enfolded with maternal care within those leaf-petals from which the infant Jesus feeds securely, as though taking milk from his mother’s breast.

Note the dark cobalt-blue of pre-creation’s ‘deep’, the primal waters that surround the cosmic egg; the azure-blue, tinged with earth-green, of the cosmic egg; the white of the brooding, swooping dove; the orange-red of the enfolded mother-figure. Colours too can be potent symbols.

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