Tuesday 14 May 2013


I wanted to share with you my mother day's present and the story behind it. For many years now I've been collecting reverse paintings. These are mostly folkloric paintings done on glass, first the details and than the backgrounds, thus the name reverse painting.

This one is Turkish, from Mardin, in the south-east of Turkey and represents the Şahmaran, a mythological being, half woman, half snake.

The legend of the Şahmaran dates to the times before the Islam, when animism was the general believe in Turkey and further in Central Asia. The word comes from the Persian  "şah-ı meran'', mother of the snakes, and in that time, this benign snake mother never became old and when dying her soul passed on to her daughter.

In later times, this friendly legend was changed in one horrible tale of treason and ends with the poor Şahmaran cut in pieces, cooked and fed to the sultan. With the end of the animism, all traces of matriarchal
power had to be eradicated.
I, of course very much prefer the first version. And I love these old paintings.
You can see more Şahramans here.

And this one, painted on a plate by Estella  is beautiful too.


  1. We bought one shadow puppet from Turkey with this design.AriadnefromGreece!

  2. Your Mother's Day present is amazing, Esther! Thanks for sharing! How lovely from Estella! I like the old version of the story much better too! Christianity has done about the same too with ancient pre-christian myths and legends, turning the ancient mythological characters into bad characters or monsters (hehe, my graduation thesis was about legends from the area in Bavaria where my mom comes from).

    Oh and Estella is SO talented in painting!!! The painted plate turned out gorgeous!

  3. She's wonderful. Love those feets.

  4. Gorgeous mythological figure!

  5. Cam Alta means under glass in Turkish, often translated as reverse, meaning the reverse side of the glass