AMATERASU – History and Personal Image

Amaterasu Oomikami [天照大神 ] is described in the Japanese Kojiki [古事記- Ancient Records ] as the Sun goddess  In the Kojiki, Amaterasu is known as the god from which all light emanates, and is also often referred to as the ‘Sun Goddess’ because of her warmth and compassion for the people who worshipped her; an interpretation of "light" or "heat" as passion, or purity.

She sent Ninigi-no-Mikoto [笵杵の尊], the first human being, to occupy the Japanese isles, and later his great-grandson became the first emperor, Emperor Jimmu [神武]. With him he had a sacred sword,  jewel and smoky mirror that became the symbols of the Japanese imperial regalia.

Although usually known and depicted as female, the Kojiki gives little clue about Amaterasu's sex. (Early Japanese language does not use gender-specific pronouns.)

Amaterasu is also credited with inventing the cultivation of rice, the use of silkworms, and weaving with a loom. Her most important shrine, the Grand Shrine of Ise [伊勢神宮], is located in Ise, Japan on the island of Honshu.

She is celebrated every July 17 with street processions all over the country.

And so it was that two years ago, on July 16, I began attempting to create a fractal image in order to personally celebrate the mythical Amaterasu.  Fractal images are most often created with a symbolic representation in mind.  At first I attempted a simple, green sprout of rice since the Goddess had bestowed this basic necessity of human existence, at least in the orient, upon the first people to inhabit the Japanese isles.



Fractal images are constructed from images or bits of images which may enlarged, as above, or transformed in a number of differing ways.  Layer upon layer, with limitless interactions, and the addition of backgrounds.  Creativity at its most playful and joyous.


So the original concept was to depict a shoot of rice shortly after it had germinated and was growing upward toward the light, which of course was furnished by the heavenly presence of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess.



A reduced image of the Ultrafractal software program in the early stages of this particular creation.  On the left is the preview panel with the emerging rice shoot and other larger plants behind it. The center bottom panel is the color gradient which is used and can be changed countless ways.  A brown neutral background layer has also been added and I was aiming at the simplicity often found in certain types of Japanese painting.


Then serendipity! 


I was attempting to change the coloring of the rice sprout in order to make it look more recently germinated and hence would be a much lighter shade of green.  Copied and pasted the wrong color gradient and was presented with quite a different image.  And inherent in this new image were numerous possibilities.  Soon added new layers, shading, manipulating,  and a single image began to emerge – that of the Goddess Amaterasu herself. Then an appropriate kakemono type frame.  The final step was the addition of the name Amaterasu in Japanese kanji characters and my personal ‘hanko’, or name stamp.



Amaterasu, The Sun Goddess