Friday, October 29, 2010

Oppi Untracht and the Jewel Mandala

I came upon this chart recently, and have been fascinated with the concept ever since. A student was reading a few pages from the beginning of Oppi Untracht's "Jewelry Concepts and Technology" when she stumbled upon this chart. She showed it to me, and I had a reaction of amazement that has stuck in my mind for nearly a week. I have read the entire chapter pertaining to this chart entitled " the jewel mandala" and have fallen in love all over again with Mr. Untracht.
He writes" The mandala deals with the functions that jewelry serves the wearer. Staring with the more basic uses which are later subdivided.....All of these uses relate to areas that consern basuc aspects of the human being: the self image, the root image, and the public image."
This chart is now poster-sized on the wall of my studio.
Rather than the simple intention of the jewel that Oppi discusses, from my perspective, this chart is like a roadmap to the destiny of the jewel (which is eternal--at least more eternal than we are) To take into consideration all of the roles that a jewel plays to a person, and in society has given new spark to my imagination which is constantly creating.
The chart is thorough and meticulous, mapping a jewel's purpose to anything from a remembrance jewel to a magic jewel, it continues by listing the ways in which a jewel might be used to remember, or assume special powers.
In the center of the entire chart (and this i find most fascinating) is Self image. Neither the jewel nor the wearer takes center stage in this intellectual display of the jewel's destiny. It is, rather, the image of self that determines the destiny of all jewels, even those which are purchased for investment or collection rather than for wearing.
Thank you Oppi Untracht, for your book Jewelry Concepts and Technology. Oppi Untracht passed away in 2008 at the age of 85. His books revolutionized jewelry making in America. He respected jewelry making as an art first, and an industry second, and he was the most thorough, knowledgeable, and well researched english speaking person on the topic of jewelry and metalsmithing. His book on Amazon. Thank you Oppi, for your absolute interest in sharing your knowledge, passing on the fine tradition of handmade metal arts. It is a dying trend for one to make anything with their hands. Thank goodness for your legacy of keeping it alive.

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