I recently completed a piece of commissioned artwork for a friend of mine. To be totally honest, I was a little hesitant to take on the project at first since the subject is quite different from what I usually create. The subject is named Hanuman, a fierce looking character that’s part-human part-monkey. Not knowing the story behind Hanuman, I simply thought he was a science fiction character that my friend really liked.
As we were discussing the feel and the overall look of the art, I learned that this mighty ape is one of the many Indian gods worshiped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance, and devotion. Then my friend shared his favourite story of Hanuman, that’s when I got really excited and had an idea of how to convey his story and personality in the artwork.
The story goes that the king, his brother and Hanuman were in a battle against evil forces. The king’s brother fell ill during battle and only a glowing plant in the Himalayas could save him. No one was capable to reach the Himalayas and make it back in time – except for Hanuman, who had magical powers and could travel at super speed. When he arrived at the mountainous terrain, every plant was glowing since they all wanted to help the king defeat evil. Unable to identify the correct plant, Hanuman carried the entire mountain on his back and returned to battle. The king chose the right plant and cured his brother. Together, they finished the fight where good defeated evil.
Later on, I realized that Hanuman sounded very similar to the magical Monkey King from the classical Chinese novel, Journey to the West (西游记). The novel was made into a popular TV series and a very fond memory of my childhood. Interestingly, some scholars even suggest that Monkey King was an incarnation of Hanuman.
My friend was very pleased with the way Hanuman turned out and I’m so glad that I tried something different. There are so many cultures and interesting stories to discover. Stay curious and try new things friends, you never know what you might learn.
Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!