Monday, July 9, 2012

Taurus constellation linocut

Taurus774Since I finished my Chinese Zodiac series I've been thinking of making a Western Zodiac series. I'm interested in how the myths and stories we told ourselves evolved into observational science (and thus how astrology, though it may irk my astronomer friends, was a progenitor of astronomy, as alchemy lead to chemistry and some physics). I started with my own 'sun sign', Taurus.

The silver stars and silhouette of Taurus the bull are illustrated in this handmade block print. I printed an edition of eight prints, 7.5 inches by 10 inches (19 cm by 24.8 cm) on lovely, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with a deckle edge. The word Taurus and symbol ♉ appear at the top of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in black-on-silver or silver-on-black as appropriate.

Taurus is one of the oldest constellation. It contains the bright clusters Hyades (on the face of the bull) and the Pleiades (on its shoulder), as well as the red giant star, Aldebaran (the bull's right eye), all of which can be clearly seen with the naked eye. This grouping of stars has been recognized and interpreted as a bull since the Bronze Age, in the mythologies of Ancient Greece, Egypt and Babylon. It is one of 48 constellations recognized by Ptolemy. Since Taurus is one of the prominent constellations which crosses the ecliptic, it is one of the signs of the Western zodiac. If you imagined all celestial bodies we see in the night sky as mapped onto a sphere (the Celestial Sphere) around our Earth, the ecliptic would be the line you would draw to map the apparent path of the Sun through the various constellations. The ecliptic is marked as the dashed line in this print.


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