(photos from the Corita Art Center. Click to see corresponding titles and catalog numbers.)
Corita made this series of eight peaceful landscapes in gentle colors out of respect for the natural order of things and peoples’ ability to create harmony. These prints total a little more than half of all of Corita’s works produced in 1982. Each print in the suite bears a line from a traditional Peace Blessing from India.
82-7 may the winds blow sweetly
82-8 may the rivers flow sweetly
82-9 may plants and herbs be sweet to you
82-10 may days and nights be sweet to you
82-11 may the dust of the earth be sweet to you
82-12 may the heavens that protect us be sweet to you
82-13 may the trees be sweet to you
82-14 may the sun shine on you sweetly
The lines appear to come from a sacred Hindu text, and the last of the four Vedas, called the Atharvaveda. According to tradition, its oldest name is Atharvangirasah, meaning “the Atharvans and Angiras”, referring to the two groups of rishi (sages) that produced the text. Although the other Vedas include hymns primarily meant for rituals and ceremonies, the Atharvaveda primarily consists of spells and incantations for healing. It was very modern for its time – it was one of the first Indo-Aryan texts to deal with medicine (there are descriptions of causative agents of diseases and explanations on using antibiotics to “defeat” illnesses).
Because the text has been translated so many times, there are many variations of the lines that inspired Corita’s landscapes. The following lines are from the “Prayer for exemption from the dangers of death” in Maurice Bloomfield’s translation of the Atharvaveda:
May heaven and earth, the bestowers of happiness, be auspicious and harmless to thee; may the sun-shine, and the wind blow comfort to thy heart; may the heavenly waters, rich in milk, flow upon thee kindly!
May the plants be auspicious to thee! I have raised thee from the lower to the upper earth: there may both the Âdityas, the sun and the moon, protect thee.
An alternate translation of the same excerpt:
May the wind blow us bliss,
May the Sun shine bliss on us,
May the days be blissful to us,
And the night approach us blissfully,
And blissfully the dawn.
Finally, version three:
May the wind kindly breathe on us, may the Sun warm us pleasantly.
May days pass happily for us, may night draw near delightfully, may dawn break joyfully for us.
There is also a Hindu Peace Prayer titled “Prayer for the Unity of All Life”, whose first two lines are extremely similar to the previous passages:
May the winds, the oceans, the herbs, and night and days, the mother earth,
the father heaven, all vegetation, the sun, be all sweet to us.
Corita’s landscapes, with their broad, loosely consolidated shapes of calming, pleasant hues, depict the same idea of the vastness and harmony of nature that the original text conveys.
Search for these pieces in the Corita Art Center’s collection here.
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