This year I participated as well in the Folktale week from 15 to 21 November.
Folktale Week is an Instagram challenge where artists from all over the world participate by posting one piece of art each day for 7 days inspired by the 7 prompts created by the year’s hosts.
This year the word were: moon, dream, awakening, feast, bird, river, sky
For this edition, I discovered and drew legends and folktales about animals from all around the world.
I chose a limited color palette and used it for the entire series painted with watercolors and coloured pencils.
For this first illustration, I was inspired by a creature that’s part of the folklore of many East Asia countries: the moon rabbit. Looking at the spots of the moon with a little imagination, you can see a rabbit sitting in front of a pestle. And it is precisely from here that many legends and myths were born, especially in China, Japan, and Korea.
Baku is a creature of Japanese folklore, but it has Chinese roots. It’s depicted as a being with a bear’s body, a trunk, tiger paws, and spots. However, its name in Japanese means “tapir”. According to tradition, the baku goes around at night to steal dreams. If you have a nightmare, you can invoke the baku to take it away and go back to sleep peacefully.
For this illustration, I was inspired by various folk tales from the Alps that have the bear as the protagonist. According to the tradition, in the Candlemas period, the bear is able to predict the weather. The night between 1st and 2nd February, the bear wakes up, comes out from the den, and looks up. If it sees the stars shining in the clear sky, it returns to its lair, sure that the bad weather will return and there will still be 40 days of cold.
According to another legend, Henry the II was helped by the bear king to take back the throne of Bern, usurped by an evil king. And that is why the city has a bear in its coat of arms.
The ceramic Barcelos rooster is a very popular souvenir among tourists in Portugal. This object derives from a legend that tells that a pilgrim returning from Santiago de Compostela was arrested in Barcelos on charges of theft. The alleged thief was brought to the judge, who was engaged in a sumptuous feast. The pilgrim said he was innocent, but the judge did not believe him and told that he would only acquit him if the roasted rooster he had on his plate started crowing. The poor man was then taken to the gallows. At that moment, in front of the judge’s amazement, the rooster got up from the plate and began to crow, saving an innocent man from death.
According to a Japanese tale, a poor man found a wounded crane and took care of it. As soon as he released the bird, a woman appeared at his door. The man fell in love with her and married her. The couple needed money, and the woman offered to make clothes to sell. But on one condition: her husband shouldn’t have seen her while he wove. The woman wove magnificent dresses, which brought them a lot of money, but in the meantime, her health was visibly declining. Filled with curiosity, her husband spied on her. So he saw that her wife turned into a crane every day and that she tore out her own feathers to make those beautiful dresses. When the crane realized she was being spied on, she flew away and never came back.
A legend about the origins of Val Schener tells that the Primiero basin was once entirely covered by the water of its river, forming two beautiful lakes surrounded by peaks. Here, an otter lived all alone. The animal spent its days gorging itself on the infinite fish of the lake, but one day she began to feel alone. For this reason, she decided to dig a small passage at the bottom of the valley to try to reach the likes of her. However, the rush of the waters opened a large passage and formed the gorges and the valley where Primiero is today.
In many places on the Italian coast, it is said that a group of small but very bright stars called Engrauline once shone in the sky. These stars, however, were very vain and spent their time bragging about their splendor and complaining when other stars dimmed their glitter. Their constant chatter was so unbearable that at one point, God had had enough and threw them into the sea, turning them into the little silver fish we call anchovy.