Buraq, Lilith and the Simurgh
2013, acrylic on canvas, 41.5 x 48", by Jenny Badger Sultan
I began this painting wanting to play with Islamic architectural forms-- minarets, arches, doorways--and patterns, painted in a very loose way, and also exploring some archetypal beings from the region. It got away from me and became a lot more precise as I continued working on it. But I really enjoyed working with the ambiguous space and spending time with these three beings who manifest aspects of the Sacred Feminine.
BURAQ, as described in an earlier drawing, is the winged horse with a woman's face and peacock tail who carried Muhammad on his journey to the heavens. I thought it was very significant that a female being transported him, especially in light of the scarcity of sacred feminine images in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam.)
LILITH is mentioned in a Sumerian text and also appears in Hebrew legend as Adamís first wife, created at the same time and from the same earth. Because she wanted to have equality in their relationship and refused to be subservient to Adam, she became an outcast and was demonized. She was seen as being possessed of an insatiable sexuality and responsible for the death of small children in their sleep. Earlier, before the takeover of the patriarchal religions, she had been a positive Bird Goddess. The owl is one of her attributes.
THE SIMURGH is a Persian myth described more fully in Meeting the Simurgh. She is another Middle Eastern female being with positive characteristics.
See also: Meeting with the Simurgh, Creatures of Air and Dancing with the Simurgh