Sunday, August 4, 2013

Madonna of the Gypsies - Wearable Sacred Shrine

There is a legend in the South of France
which is still kept alive in the hearts and lives
of the Roma (Gypsies)

This legend is centred on the tiny village
in the Camargue
where the white horses run wild,
marshy fields covered with pink flamingoes
and provencal cowboys drive the black bulls.

Once a year this village throbs with the rhythm of the flamenco,
the sound of the banjo and chello,
and a spectacular display of the Bohemian lifestyle
of the Roma.

The legend goes that after the crucifixion of Jesus
 the three Marys,
Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary of Cleophas,
along with the Saint Sarah, landed
in a small little boat at the shore of
Saintes Maries de la Mer,
(The Saints Marys of the Sea),
in Camargue.
  In this legend the black Sarah is the Egyptian handmaid
of one of them.
She is called Sarah-la-Kali,
a divine sister of Kali of India.

In another legend she is the daughter of Jesus
and Mary Magdalene,
carrying the royal bloodline.

Thousands of Roma people (Gypsies)
travel to Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer
during May every year
to venerate Saint Sarah
and the three Marys.

a porcelain gypsy dancer doll I brought back from my pilgrimage to the
 festival of Sainte Sara
in Maries-de-la-Mer

Shadow box of the spirit of the Sara-la-Kali festival
with  Madonna of the Roses rosary

I made this series of Black Madonna rosaries.
The images are in black and sepia and they remind
me of the black of Saint Sarah and the fiery
passion and celebration of the Roma and her celebrations.
The Black Madonnas are a very mysterious part of the 
Marian symbology and our world
and although these images are not strictly Black Madonna
images, to me they hold some of that mysteriousness
of the blackness of the unconscious made manifest
in this world.

All my handwork are sacred objects and I see the sacred
in everything and everyone.  Every simple act in this world
holds the profound grace of potentially being
an act of compassion and love,
containing the power of bringing deep joy and beauty to our
own lives and to the lives of others.

These rosaries are wearable sacred shrines.
The body is sacred and a temple of the divine.
Adorning the body with a beautiful sacred shrine
is a sacrament of love.

Madonna of the Gypsies

I soldered the centrepiece with silver solder
and the image is held between two pieces of glass.

I added black onyx rosary beads and crucifixes;
held together with red swarovski crystal,
and red roses.

A tiny sterling silver Agnus Dei heart shaped locket
dangle at the top of the centrepiece
and at the end of the rosary is
a handmade glass lampwork red rose
and a
a pure silver cross embossed with images

Madonna of the Roses and Madonna of the Gypsies
wearable shrines adorning the heart,
altar of the Blessed Mother

This beautiful shawl I bought at the market during the festival.
I also bought the red spanish comb which I used on the
shadowbox, as well as the beautiful hat

Madonna of the Gypsies wearable shrine is displayed here on the shadowbox
a shrine of the Sainte Sara-la-Kali feast days.
It contains the gypsy doll that I collected, as well as a small statue
of the black saint, her rosary and a black bull - an important
part of the festival.
If you would like to read more about this festival and my experiences there