Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Urhu Serpent Sage Musician

Finished sketch of one of Halfland's main characters, Urhu, the half-serpent sage musician. We will only see him briefly at the end of the first Halfland series but he's important. He represents spiritual knowledge. Don't ask me why he's a serpent, half-human because I haven't a clue! He has one powerfully muscular arm, his human body form is squat and short. He plays an old string instrument with the subtle shape of a serpent's head. His hand is malformed yet he is able to hold the bow for the instrument. He leans the neck of it against his own and holds it in place with his bearded chin.

He lives in a vast landscape of sand and dunes alone. He has a colorful comfortable Berber style tent, laden with heavy rugs and pillows. His days are passed by playing the instrument on a rug in front of his tent, endlessly performing the strange music like a constant expression of what it is to be alive. A continuous sound of existence. He plays alone to the winds for countless years until our small troop of wayfarers arrives seeking help...


  1. Wow the way you wrote that just makes me see it all!, as for the sketch its simply exquisite!

  2. Thank you soooooooo much, Ben!

  3. Nick H6:58 PM

    Exciting new stuff!
    I won't ask why a serpent, these archetypes come out of the subconscious fully formed and they are what they are. I've never seen him before, but at some level I can half-recognize him. The whole scene, with the tent in the desert, sounds magical!
    But I can't help wondering, why only one arm? Because playing a stringed instrument one-handed is not easy!
    Especially if fingering is required for different notes.

  4. Oh, thank you, Nick, I feel really understood! Excellent question about the one arm. It mainly comes from the blending of serpent to human form. I wanted a more vertical split rather than lower/upper half like a snakemaid.

    Something about the powerful sinuous quality of constrictor snakes suggested the powerful masculine arm to me but to have two arms takes away too much of the serpentness.

    I don't play any instruments myself and so can see the impracticality of having only one arm as he plays. But when I take the little ethnic instrument that I bought in New York in 1993 for this URHU purpose, I think he'll change the chords by pressing his jawbone across the strings.

    There are a lot of malformed or handicapped bodies in Halfland; the Handicapped Butterflies are all missing parts of limbs as they fly gracefully around the landscape.

    Urhu's one hand, contorted into a kind of a narrow snake's tail shape, seems to fit with a spasticity common in cerebral palsy where muscles are unable to relax.

    And yet, that he can play his peaceful music even in such a physical state, as if to demonstrate the insignificance of form limitations, is also part of his making in my mind.

    So that's it, snake like and malformed, he'll play the thing like a constrictor would, gently squeezing the belly to hold it in place with his serpent body, using the bow with his one human arm, rocking back and forth with the music as his jaw changes pressure on the strings near the scroll.

  5. cool concept!


  6. Isn't aesthetically pleasing good enough for why you design a character like him. He's so cool.

  7. Ok, 3rd time trying to comment here!!! Fingers crossed....

    It would be basically impossible to play an instrument like that one armed (in the real world, of course.... not sure of physics in Halfland). I could see him using his tail to bow with, or even AS a bow!

  8. Thanks, Ryan!

    Hey, Mike, I'm glad you persisted! What a fabulous ingenious idea(s) you have there! Yes! Bowing with the thin end of the tail! Woo!


    Thank you.

  9. Finally... I'm Back!!!
    Love all the progress and I wanna make a sea critter too!!!
    Love you and a loooong e-mail is coming your way :)

  10. Oma Gawd! Hila! I swear, I was just going to email you to say WHERE ARE YOU!!!! WE are so in the kitchen sink!


    You sound great! I'm so happy they have internet wherever you are!

    A Hila fish!? Holy cow!

    Happy now.


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