Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yeh-Shen & The Crane Wife by Amy Parrish

Yeh-Shen by Amy Parrish
I stumbled across these midweek for the first time while researching the "Chinese Cinderella", though they are nearly three years old now. While I've seen a lot of Amy Parrish's work - so beautiful! - I had missed these entirely. (Note: the website auto-plays music.)

I had no idea she loved Yeh-Shen. Here are her comments about it from her website:
If you’re not already familiar with the title reference of “Yeh-Shen”, this is a tale, extremely similar to Cinderella, but a thousand years older and originating in China. 
Instead of a fairy godmother, Yeh-Shen’s magical gifts come from the remains of her friend; a fish. 
I’ve had an adaption of this sitting on my bookshelf for nearly a decade since first discovering it in my Children’s Lit course at Otterbein. There was something even more mystical about this version than the European tale I was already familiar with, thanks to Walt Disney. If you have children (or even if you don’t), I definitely recommend reading this fairytale for yourself.
You can see the whole lovely photo shoot HERE.

There was another part to this series, creating images for another fairy tale, this time a Japanese one and fairly well known to fairy tale readers. It's the lovely and tragic story of The Crane Wife.
The Crane Wife by Amy Parrish
There are a few more photos for this one and additional commentary too (both of which we love). Here are some excerpts:
As oral tradition typically goes, there are a few versions of this Japanese fable. One of them weaves a story of a poor man who rescues an injured crane. Shortly thereafter, a beautiful young woman knocks at his door seeking shelter. They marry and come upon even worse times than the poor man had experienced alone. His wife told him that she could make a magic sail to sell along the harbor. Only, the husband was not, under any circumstance, to watch her toiling at the loom. After weaving for more than a day, the sail was ready and the wife came out from behind her screen looking extremely exhausted.... 
...Some versions I’ve read have changed dramatically around here; Was it the husband who demanded that his wife weave another magic sail or was it reluctantly suggested? I’d like to think it was the latter, but regardless of how it occurred, an opportunity came about in which a wealthy captain had offered a lifetime’s gold for one of these magic sails he had heard so much about. This time, while the wife was toiling away for a few days, her husband could not take it anymore. Some stories attribute this to an innocent, yet uncontrollable, curiosity and others to cold greed…the husband pulled back the screen, and what he saw was not his wife, as he knew her, at all. The same crane he had rescued so long ago sat behind the loom, trembling and weak as she had woven her very own feathers filled with the sea wind into the sails. 
Terrified and unable to speak, the crane flew away and was never seen again.
See the whole of the photo shoot, read all of Ms. Parrish's comments, hear her inspiration and see some additional artwork inspired by the tale, HERE.
I hope Ms. Parrish is inspired to do shoots representing some other lesser known folktales in future! It's one of the best ways to get people reading them again.

1 comment:

  1. ohhhhh. so lovely. & i have always had an affinity to "the crane wife", but hadn't seen parrish's images...thank you.