Monday, April 11, 2016

Vashti, Rejected Queen of Persia

The story of Vashti, the rejected (and rejecting) Queen of Persia is told in the Biblical book of Esther. (My mother was named Esther, so I have some connection to her, sort of.) In the tale, Vashti's husband King Xerxes of Persia demands her presence at a week-long royal court party. She refuses to come to it, for reasons the book doesn't explain, but it is likely that she would be shown off and humiliated in front of a crowd of drunken lewd men. Because of her refusal, she was removed as Queen and replaced, after a beauty contest, by the Jewish heroine Esther. Queen Esther eventually persuades the King to call off persecutions of Jews. The story, and a Jewish analysis of it, can be found at this helpful Jewish cultural website. Esther's story and success is celebrated in the joyful feast of Purim, which happens in early spring.

What you see here is an illustration for a “midrash” poem by a friend of mine who writes stories about the lives and feelings of Biblical characters. He has created a musical show from his Bible tales. Vashti is one of the characters in the song cycle and he commissioned me to depict her in a Persian costume and setting.

The piece was featured on the cover of  STRANGERS AT THE GATE, a collection of these Biblical “midrash” poems privately published in 1997.

Original art is ink on illustration board, 11" x 14", February 1996.

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