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Naga

While I was designing this print, I kept on thinking of the ouroboros—that primordial symbol of a snake devouring its own tail. At the same time, I was inspired by the idea of a garment bearing a protective pattern, a concept found in many cultures. Fittingly enough, the ouroboros has a long mystical history, spanning Ancient Egypt to Renaissance Europe and appearing on everything from amulets to alchemical manuscripts. I was also interested in turning something as culturally maligned as the snake into something of beauty. Fittingly, the nagas, after which this print is named, are potent serpent beings found in East Asian myths. While some nagas are threatening, others are quite beneficent and protective. To create the drawing for the pattern, I referred to 19th century illustrations to give it some visual gravitas. I actually began with Ben Franklin’s  “Join, or Die” illustration, the first American political cartoon.