Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Awakening to the Goddess: The Art & Activism of Mayumi Oda

By Andrea Miller
“Amaterasu” Thangka Painting Amaterasu is the principal goddess of the Shinto religion. “When I started to paint thangkas, this was the most important goddess in my mind,” says Mayumi Oda, “so she was the first goddess that I painted.”
When she was a child growing up, Mayumi Oda loved visiting an ancient shrine in Kamakura. Located in a cave, it was dedicated to the Hindu/Buddhist goddess Sarasvati, known in Japan as Benzaiten. Because Benzaiten is a goddess of wealth, people would wash their wallets and purses in the spring running through the cave, and they’d leave offerings of eggs for the white snakes associated with her. One day, the young Oda encountered a guardian of the shrine, a seer. With one skillful stroke he was painting a serpent, vibrating the brush to create scales. “Young girl,” he said, “you are going to be a successful painter.” Mayumi Oda, now aged seventy-nine, is known as the Matisse of Japan. [More