Associated today with pagan cults, the veneration of the Sun, as a deity, has its roots in remote antiquity and in several ancient cultures – Egyptian, Indo-European and Meso-American – which shared the worship of the Sun and developed solar religions. The Sun was seen as the fountain of light and life, thus having a prominent role in all aspects of human life, being also considered as a source of wisdom.
Solar deities could assume the form of a Sun God or a Sun Goddess, as a sky deity representing the sun or one of its aspects, as in ancient Egypt, in Mesopotamia – in the Sumerian and Akkadian civilisations – and among the Indo-European peoples, where it stood as a symbol of divine power, and also present in Indo-Iranian, Greco-Roman, and Scandinavian mythology, or in the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mexico and Peru.
In this complex, but yet accomplished composition, the Artist chose to interpret a synthesis of the concept: Sun – Biosphere – Humanity – Animal life, representing the Sun rather as a Sun Goddess bearing the solar disk as a mask and coming out of the cone that represents the Biosphere.
The solar disk incorporates the “Wheel of the Year” symbolizing the Four Seasons or Solar Festivals – the changing of the seasons caused by the Sun -, and the Fire Festivals which celebrate plant and animal life-cycles, all representing the various states of nature, and its interconnection with man, animal and plants.
The names of the Four Seasons are inscribed: Yule – Winter Solstice, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun; Ostara – Spring Equinox; Litha – Summer Solstice – glorifying the Sun; and Mabon – Autumn Equinox, with roots in the Druid, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Germanic people’s ancient traditions.
Then follows, the Four Festivals: Imbloc, one of the four Celtic Fire Festivals, commemorating the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden; Beltane – 30th April – 1st May, the Celtic May Day; Lammas, the feast which commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun; and the Samhain – Halloween – October 31st.
The Biosphere – the sum of all ecosystems, including nature, man and animal life and all that is made possible by the Sun that shines upon the Earth – is represented by the shape of an inverted cone. In the Cone´s vertex, closing the composition, there is a stylized hemisphere from which emerges a man, whose left hand upholds the cone’s base.
The woman figure, representing the Sun Goddess, having her half of her body inserted in the cone – Biosphere – also transmits the idea of a ‘vehicle’ that connects the Sun with the Earth, bringing life and making it possible.
The die cutting of the plate has an overall positive effect, since it enhances the visual impact of the print.
This ex libris is an excellent example of how a complex theme can be converted into an exquisite drawing and print by an outstanding Artist, using creative powers and engraving and printing skills.
In conclusion, this ex libris reveals, not only an intelligent and quite original interpretation of this difficult theme, in an harmonious composition, but a hymn to ancient believes of mankind – the harmony between Man and Nature, and the central role of the Sun, as the giver of Life on Earth.
José Vicente de Bragança