Mandala swimmer, Kali tat, Banksia stamp

(Hunk in a swmsuit, oblique literate raciness. Plus religion, art, and plants.)

Today’s mailing from the Daily Jocks company takes us to the beaches of Oz, where an ad for the Aussie homowear firm 2eros’s Mandala swimsuit is framed as a postcard, complete with a 2018 Oz-floral stamp. Plus a caption of mine:


(#1) The flower of his manhood

Ramble down the
Rocks to revere his pink
Lotus flower, to
Lose yourself on the
Blue wheel of desire

The company’s remarkable ad copy:

Make your next beach getaway a journey of self-discovery with the Mandala swimwear.
Covered in a beautiful original 2EROS print inspired by the spiritual and ritual symbols used in Hinduism and Buddhism and constructed with a 4-way stretch material and internal mesh lining, you’ll be inspiring a spiritual awakening while feeling comfortable and supported at the same time!

Discover yourself through your swimmer (Aussie slang for ‘swimsuit’)! In a religious experience reached by clothing your genitals and buttocks in fabric that borrows the symbols of Hinduism and Buddhism. In the Mandala pattern, seen here close up:

(#2)

When I first saw the ad image and read its copy, I thought the fabric pattern incorporated Hindu and Buddhist religious symbols directly, which would be, at the very least, creepy — as if the company had announced a new fabric pattern Abraham, combining these three religious symbols:


(#3) Judaism, Christanity, Islam

Instead, the pattern is “inspired by” religious symbols. It’s vaguely mandala-like. From Wikipedia:


(#4) A schematic mandala (for coloring)

A mandala (emphasis on first syllable; Sanskrit मण्डल, maṇḍala – literally “circle”) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.
The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often have radial balance [so that they look like 8-petaled lotus flowers seen from above].

The lotus and other symbols. First, the lotus plant. From Wikipedia:

(#5)

Nelumbo nucifera, also known as Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, Egyptian bean or simply lotus, is one of two extant species of aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae [a new one, #82, in my running inventory of plant families]. It is often colloquially called a water lily. Under favorable circumstances the seeds of this aquatic perennial may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.

Nelumbo nucifera is the species of lotus sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha (Lotus navel), a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it. The goddess Saraswati is portrayed on a white-colored lotus. The lotus is the symbol of what is divine or immortality in humanity, and is also a symbol of divine perfection.

… Many deities of Asian religions are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech and mind, as if floating above the murky waters of material attachment and physical desire.

The sacred lotus is a female symbol in both India and China, and is often viewed as a symbol of female genitalia — but you can see from #5 that it could also be viewed as a symbol of male genitalia (and, of course, in gay contexts, the shifting of symbols from female to male is routine).

The lotus, side view, as a Buddhist symbol:

(#6)

And, in a view from above, as a Hindu symbol, here in combination with the Om symbol (in the center):

(#7)

From Wikipedia:

Om … is a sacred sound and a spiritual symbol in Hinduism, that signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atman. It is a syllable that is chanted either independently or before a mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

One more symbol, the dharma wheel of Buddhism, here in a particularly simple form:

(#8)

(My 5/29/18 posting “The 6-fold way” has a section on the 8-fold way of Buddhism and the dharma wheel symbolizing it.)

Now, some or all of these symbols might have been worked into the Mandala fabric pattern in #2 in some way, but they can’t be picked out directly in the pattern, so that the pattern doesn’t look at all religious in content.

The setting for #1. That would be the North Bondi Beach rocks in Sydney, seen here in an aerial view:

(#9)

(Most of Bondi is a wide strip of sandy beach, populated by tanning Aussies.)

The Kali tat. Moving on now from the Mandala swimmer to the Kati tat: the remarkably intricate blue tattoo on the model’s chest. From Wikipedia:

(#10)

Kālī (Sanskrit: काली), also known as Kālikā or Shyama (Sanskrit: कालिका), is a Hindu goddess. Kali is one of the ten Mahavidyas, a list which combines Sakta and Buddhist goddesses.

Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces.

… Kali is portrayed mostly in two forms: the popular four-armed form and the ten-armed Mahakali form. In both of her forms, she is described as being black in colour but is most often depicted as blue in popular Indian art. Her eyes are described as red with intoxication, and in absolute rage, her hair is shown disheveled, small fangs sometimes protrude out of her mouth, and her tongue is lolling. She is often shown naked or just wearing a skirt made of human arms and a garland of human heads. is also accompanied by serpents and a jackal while standing on the calm and prostrate Shiva.

… In spite of her seemingly terrible form, Kali Ma is often considered the kindest and most loving of all the Hindu goddesses, as she is regarded by her devotees as the Mother of the whole Universe. And because of her terrible form, she is also often seen as a great protector.

And the Banksia stamp in #1. A recent issue:

(#10)

About this particular species, from Wikipedia:

Banksia coccinea, commonly known as the scarlet banksia, waratah banksia or Albany banksia, is an erect shrub or small tree in the family Proteaceae. The Noongar peoples know the tree as Waddib. Its distribution in the wild is along the south west coast of Western Australia, … growing on white or grey sand in shrubland, heath or open woodland. … The prominent red and white flower spikes appear mainly in the spring.

… Widely considered one of the most attractive Banksia species, B. coccinea is a popular garden plant and one of the most important Banksia species for the cut flower industry; it is grown commercially in several countries including Australia, South Africa, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Israel.

(My 7/4/17 posting “Fay Zwicky” has a section on Joseph Banks and banksias, with appearances by Captain James Cook and Kew Gardens.)

In fact, the stamp in #10 is one of a set. From the Australia Post website on 2/13/18, in “Banksias: The artwork of Celia Rosser”:

(#11)

Banksias are an evocative native Australian flowering plant; evocative because of the way they instantly conjure up the Australian bush. [The other iconically Australian plants are the gum trees (eucalypts) and the wattles (Australian Acacia spp.).]

Indeed, when Captain James Cook (1728–1729) first voyaged to Botany Bay, in 1768, on the Endeavour, with him was a team of naturalists led by Joseph Banks (1743–1820). Banks and his team collected four species (at that stage, described as “Leucadendrum”). Later, when discussing the difference between the natural environments of Australia and Europe, Banks declared that the Banksia exemplifies this difference more than any other plant species.

The Banksias stamp issue, which will be released on 20 February 2018, celebrates this iconic native flowering plant. The stamps feature the artwork of celebrated Australian botanical artist Celia Rosser. Stamp collectors may already be familiar with Celia’s work, through her incredible illustrations for the 1981 Australian Fungi stamp issue and the 1987 Cocos (Keeling) Islands stamp issue that depicted the life-cycle of the coconut.

(#12)

… Celia Rosser (b. 1930) trained as a fashion illustrator at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne but turned her hand to illustrating wildflowers, native orchids and banksias after moving to Orbost, in eastern Victoria.

Along the way she fell in love with banksias and became the artist of the genus Banksia. From Wikipedia:


(#13) Volume III of Rosser’s great work

The Banksias, by Celia Rosser, is a three-volume series of monographs [published 1981-2000] containing paintings of every Banksia species [known at the time]. Its publication represented the first time such a large genus [with around 170 species in it] had been entirely painted by a single botanical artist. It has been described as “one of the outstanding botanical works of this century.”

The paintings themselves are watercolours on Arches rag paper. The three volumes comprise plates reproduced using offset printing, and bound in green leather. Alex George wrote the accompanying text.

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