So as some of you may or may not know, the last several months I've been working on a piece about Lilith. I devoted a chapter to her in Secrets of Rusty Things but to make sure everyone is on the same page the basic background of the Lilith story is that according to Jewish myth she was Adam's first partner. She, unlike Eve (who was made from Adam), was made of the same dust Adam was, thus she was his equal, thus a tad more independent than her symbolic sister...just a tad. As the story goes she would not submit to Adam (not to get too graphic...but lets just say sexual positions were part of the conflict). She wanted to be Adam's equal. Ultimately when Lilith decides she can't handle being beneath Adam (physically and metaphorically) she flies the coop. Literally. She flew off to the Red Sea where she made her new home. Adam tried to get her back, and three angels were sent to retrieve her. She had been hanging out, copulating with demons when they arrived and they threatened to kill 100 of her offspring a day if she did not return. To counter she replied that she would be on the prowl for any infants or pregnant mothers who came from the lineage of Adam. Needless to say...they stayed separated.
She is considered the mother of all succubi (plural of succubus) who are female demons that seek to steal the lifeforce from men. For me Lilith myth has always been a bit paradoxical. She epitomizes that tragic hero/heroine in which fate deals a nasty blow and sends them off on a grim path. In her case the die was cast merely for her assertion of her individuality...it was this that leads her to a darker fate. On one hand you can't help but sympathize, on the other hand...you probably wouldn't want to mess with her.
A few things to think about before I reveal the piece. One of the earliest depictions of her is from Sumeria. She is portrayed as a winged and clawed harpy-like woman.
Interestingly enough, most speculate that the Lamia from Greek myth came from the Lilith myth. The Lamia was a snake/woman shapeshifter that would lead men to there doom. the Lamia is often considered a vampire, of sorts, certainly a succubus. One interesting thing though is that many depictions of the Adam and Eve in artwork reveal a serpent with a woman's torso. The devil in female form...or Lilith...or the same?
Here's Michelangelo's version:
And Fillippino Lipi's
And Hugo van der Goes'....though if that is Lilith...she is less snake-like and somewhat more salamander-esqe.
Of course sometimes she is someone who just likes to hang with serpents. This is John Collier's version of Lilith.
Very Lilith-y...though, I'm not sure about the hair.
Sssssssassy......It always seemed that the snake charming thing had some sort of relationship with this myth. A woman not tempted by the serpent...instead... in control of the serpent. I can certainly see a Lilith metaphor. I'll stay away from the Freudian references.
Speaking of snake women, one of the most striking images I've ever come across is the serpent maidens in Hinduism. The Nagas.
Not really demons, but, as you will see, the image stuck with me when I created the daughters of Lilith.
Oh yes...and here is a contemporary Naga from the Bollywood film..."Hisss"
The reason I went into all of the information above is that I wanted to give everyone a point of reference. I wanted to show some of the various influences that went into the piece.
It all started with a box I found in North Carolina. It was used to mold dynamite...well that is what the antique dealer told me anyway.
I knew I wanted to do a Lilith's Daughters piece, so first step was to start making the little succubi. I wasn't really sure at this point how the box itself would turn out.
Here they are now...aren't they purdy in all there different headdresses?Compare them to the Hindu serpent princesses
..same spermy bodies.
So when all was said and done...after many mind-changing moments I finally got to here. The entire piece is about 4 feet long...and twenty daughters.
Here's a close up Lilith. It took awhile for me to get her coloring right. I wanted something cool and watery. By the way the metal skull came from foundry I was at in Bali.
In my stash of goodies I had a cast iron object that had the name Adam on it. It's above the glass eye.
And yes that is actually a life sized glass eye that I picked up in shop in Soho called Evolution. I also purchased a freeze dried bat while I was there.
One of the most frequent asked questions about this piece is in reference to the teeth. You can see them framing the daughters.
They are not real. They came from a dental kit that was used to make dentures. There were hundreds of them...I put quite a dent in the stash.
This little bit of text came from the scrap of paper I found on the floor as I was finishing the piece.
I thought it was perfect in reference to Lilith and Eve. Oh yes...that is from a revolver on the bottom. I thought it appropriate...also I think Judy is going to find me some Hebrew text that would be appropriate in scroll form. They will be placed in the cylanders.
This is a bad angle but above the daughters toward the center-left you can see one of the hands that is used to open the box when the daughters want to come out and play.
And the last shot I'll show is one that I think really represents the Sumerian source
Once again here it is the Sumerian version
So there is Lilith and her brood. Hope you enjoyed storytime.