Ceremonial Gateway With Rabari Toran

Nadine Jacobs, designer

The horizontal portion of the Sacred Space entrance portal is inspired by the shape and colors of the toran, an embroidered doorway hanging created by the Rabari culture who are nomadic herders from the Gujarat region of Northwest India. The Rabari are Hindus who believe they are direct descendants of the supreme god Shiva, revered as the creator of the universe. Toran hangings are created for celebrations and marriage festivals. The decorative design on the pendants is derived from an Owen Jones study of Oriental ornament and reflects patterns found in Arabian, Persian, Moresque, and Indian traditions (Jones, Plate VI).

The symbols present on the Sacred Space ceremonial gateway are not specific to the Rabari but are symbols selected by the collaborative artists to articulate the themes of the exhibit. The peacock is the national bird of India and is worshipped by the Rabari as a symbol of the reincarnation of the gods. The crane represents healing, the eggs are symbolic of new potential, the trees illustrate connecting the generations of the past and future, the sacred fruits represent the bounty of life on earth, and abstracted patterns from quilts serve as memorials to the passage of time and life.