Thursday, August 28, 2008

From the Weirdness Dept: The Urhu Revelation

While Ron and I were working on art for a web site at my desk today, he noticed the Halfland character sketches clipped to a folding screen nearby. He made a double take on the one of the serpent sage musician in the film called Urhu and asked me if I knew there was an instrument exactly like that made with snake skin, exactly like that, that is played, exactly in that position (only bowed by hand, not tail). I got a pain in my stomach as he said that, like a mule kick.

Oh yeah, the NAME of that instrument?... an Erhu. Erhu/Urhu. Now what's particularly odd about the coincidence is how I arrived at creating my Urhu. The name was a play on an esoteric Sanskrit word meaning "God", Hu. The character's name UR-HU was my own private meaning of the enlightened character realizing that "You are Spirit" (U-R-HU). He is the half serpent/half wise one in the desert spending his eons playing this instrument contentedly as metaphor for the breath of spirit we ourselves vibrate to, as the strings do, like a god. The fact that there is an instrument like it in every aspect, down to the curve of the head, as Ron pointed out, that I *made up*, named so much like the character, made of snake skin itself? The mind boggles.

Ron even has an Erhu himself that he bought while in China and plans to play it for me next week.

The material for the giant sky backdrop arrived this week and I've been putting it together the last couple days. I was intending to use it horizontally, as you see it partially laid out above (with a "Cloud" on it, HA!), but a subsequent paint basecoat curled the edges so that when Ron walked in today he assumed I had meant to use them vertically so they make a perfect SHADOWLESS curve around the set. That got my attention, updates coming...


  1. Wild coincidence!!! You probably had seen one somewhere and buried it in the subconscious.

    As for painting stuff so it doesn't curl up.... I like to first brush the back side down with water and quickly flip it before painting. Still get a slight warp though.

    Of course, warping only occurs with waterbased paints. Use alkyds or oils and you'll have no problem, or oil pastels thinned with Turpenoid. Seems bizarre the first time you try it, but it works!

  2. Or, the method for watercolor paper I use to use... wet both sides and gently stretch it when it's good and wet, then tape down all around.

    Or airbrush your painting on it.

  3. Nope nope nope. Mikeee, you didn't get this bizarreness yet--I made the instrument like that because of a miniature AFRICAN one I found on a street market in NYC in 1993 specifically for the serpent musician character. He was a musician first, the fact that it was a similar instrument was happenstance and unintentional as I came across that one by accident.

    Then the fact that the Erhu uses snakeskin? It's too weird. The character was a snake before I found the instrument, not the other way around, even IF I had heard about a snake covered skin on one. Which I hadn't--in this life?

    The biggest weirdness is that I arrived at naming him URHU from an entirely different means than a subconscious burp gurrgling up to the surface. The name had to conform to the 1/2L four letter convention; Rana, Yanu, Tarn, Kyra, Bosq, etc. hence "You are God" URHU. That in no way could have been generated by the buried knowledge of the Ancient ERHU.

    It isn't a "big" deal or anything, just... cause for pause...

  4. OH-- Dude-- I WANT THE CURL!!! Mwahaaahhaaa! HA! I only wish that I had been smart enough to have INTENDED The CURL! Mwahahaha. You'll (hopefully my evil plan will work out) see shortly.


  5. Oh, I know... I gotcha that you're gonna use the curl and all, just thought I'd throw out a few strategies for future curl-less projects!

    Curl on sister! Curl on!

  6. That's quite remarkable. Gotta love it when that happens :)

  7. Amazing! How very strange!
    Tui has an erhu, and uses it in his music, tho he doesn't play it how you're sposed to. It's a weird sounding thing, and beautiful.

  8. (^ my first personal named spirit interface was "YHU"
    (6 had multiple aplications for why..ache YOuuu! toy youuuhoohohoo ( when I'd get cranky and blaim the mistick misfits for complex struggles I found myself participating in.

    (^ heh. I really need to figure out how to get Tawd Dorenfeld over to your shop as a potential spot to do some Mr.B tests.

  9. Good to know, Mike, should I need to paint without the buckle! Thanks!

    Tell one of your stories, Rich!

    Hi, Rima! How does Tui play his? Maybe I should hear it!

    Hi Prosser, You mean as in Yaaaahooo? Who is this personage you are putting in my house!? Do I want them here? hee.

  10. (^ no worries. I've no idea where you live. this is just another animator who has ties in places that may be of use to keep in mind is all.

    (^ you'd have to be interested . i've no contact nore context to you other than via halfland:
    the guys' pretty busy tho. don't worry about it.

  11. Not worried, Prosser, just wanted more of the dope on the... fellow. If you see a connection that's good enough for me.

  12. Ha! My stories of coincidental happenings are many and varied and could include anything as mundane as agreeing to go and play basketball with mates, despite being unemployed and broke, and finding the exact bus fare in coins along the way; to telling my girlfriend it was about time for me to get a job only to be rung a couple of hours later and offered one with the Oz Parliament despite not having applied for it; Or, as in your case, naming one of my 'baddy' characters only to find out from my Hungarian Mother in Law that the name I had chosen translated (in Hungarian) as Dragon. It's a strange world...

  13. Whoa, those are good stories! I love when that happens! Yay subconscious or ?, like Mike said.

  14. :) Whichever it is, I enjoyed the basketball, needed the job, and my character, well, he's most certainly in conflict with his inner dragon.

  15. i don't know how i missed this post the first time 'round, but... whoah!

  16. @Rich hee. I hope your package of thanks arrives soon.

    @g oh THANK YOU Gretchin! I really feel you got the total whoah of this! Thank you for hearing me! xoxo

  17. I've long given up on coincidence. Magic makes more sense. I love your magical world!!!
    xox K


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