Monday, September 16, 2013

31DC2013 Day 16- Tribal print

Um... okay. So, today is a little bit of a subversion on my part- I am really uncomfortable with the "tribal" theme. It feels kind of fetish-y... like, why are we using a stereotypical representation of someone else's culture and belief system as a fashion accessory? It just rubs me the wrong way. It's hard to call it "cultural appropriation" since the theme is so generic as to not even indicate a particular culture, but it's still... kinda weird.

The thing is: I do enjoy the aesthetic of stereotypical "tribal" nails. I think a lot of today's submissions are really beautiful. The fact that we are reducing them to simply an aesthetic with no meaning is what bothers me- I am all for celebrating cultural heritage, or even well-researched cultural homage. But I don't feel right just doing it because I like the look.

But I don't want to miss a day of the challenge, so I'm going to make art from the only tribe I don't feel uncomfortable using as decoration- my own tribe. I'm Jewish, and hey- we've got twelve tribes to choose from! No loss. I don't know exactly what tribe my father is, but my mother is a Levite, so I decided to go with that. The colorful dots on the pale gold background represent the High Priest's breastplate, from the elaborate and beautiful priesthood garb worn in the era of the Holy Temple. Each color is as close a match as I can approximate to the actual gem colors on the breastplate, according to historical documents.

Here's a cool note: This is my first attempt at taking a proper blog photo in artificial light! Not too shabby, don'cha think? It's pretty liberating, because it means I don't have to drag my camera to work to catch daylight hours. I'll probably still try to most of the time, but I think this is more than adequate for the days I can't. Or I can't get out at a perfect time to catch the light. No more crazy lady photographing her hands in the parking lot at peak exodus hours!

Hannah, meanwhile, also tapped into her own cultural heritage for her designs. She's Panamanian, so she based her design on a piece of Panamanian artwork from her grandmother:

And here is the artwork it's based on:

To see who else is participating in today's challenge, click the jump.


  1. I love that your mani has historical significance behind it! My husband is Jewish--I'll have to ask him if he knows what tribe he's from. :-D

    1. Thank you! I had initially tried to make the gemstones square, like they were on the breastplate, but I couldn't keep them even.

      Most Jews don't know what tribe they're from, only the Levites really kept track of their lineage, probably because they're the priesthood tribe. But good luck!


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