I was invited to be part of a new 2 artist gallery show in August. The theme this time is "Journey" and, while I will be making several more artist book oriented pieces, I always like to include some aspects of my woodworking.
This first piece is a sculptural form of the game Hyena which comes from Northern Africa. It is related to a much older game called Mehen from Egypt.
The basic rules to the game are as follows:
The playing area is traditionally marked on the ground, but may be drawn on paper. It has a sequence of many circles arranged in a spiral, each representing a camp and the end of a day's journey. The first circle at the outside of the spiral is larger and represents a village, and the final circle at the centre of the spiral represents a well at an oasis. Thus the objective of the game is to travel from the village to the well and then be the first player to return.
Each player has a piece, representing a mother. There is also a piece to represent the hyena. The pieces start at the village. The players move their pieces according to the roll of a die (traditionally pieces of stick were used).
A player must throw a six to get their mothers from the village onto the first circle. The player must also throw the exact number to reach the well; if the number they throw is higher than the number of days to the well they must try again on their next turn. Once they reach the well the mother washes her clothes until the player rolls a six again. Then the mother starts the return journey to the village.
The first player to get their mother back to the village (they do not need an exact throw) wins the game. For added entertainment, the winner is allowed to play the hyena. Again, a six must be thrown to release it from the village. The well must be reached by an exact throw and can only be left when a six is thrown. However the hyena moves at twice the speed of the mothers (double the score of the die), and any mothers that the hyena passes on the return journey are eaten and removed from the board.
I've decided to use dicing sticks instead of dice for the piece and work with a linear path. The path does have 30 spaces, corresponding to a month of journey time. As with most of my work there are underlying numbers and symbolic references. The whole board is meant to suggest a path with stands of reeds along the way. The final space is drilled completely through to the darker "earth" colored blocks and represents the well as the oasis.
Woods include: Lyptus, Walnut, Lacewood, Maple and Cocobolo. The piece is approximately 30" x 8" x 8"
I've made a set of pieces in maple and a set in cocobolo. I am undecided at this point about which to include. I still need to finish the Hyena piece too.
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