The first few steps that I took outside our residential complex, I was drawn towards the long, slender and wavy leaves of the Ashoka tree – the Indian Fir tree. I’ve seen these trees almost everyday but today I saw from a different set of eyes, I think. For the moment I saw them, I knew I would be engrossed in making zentangle patterns inside those wavy outlines. And, I was right. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making zentangled Ashoka leaves today. More so because I weaved in a theme that depicts our culture and tradition.
So, check out the story behind the theme and get to know the Ashoka tree or the Devdaru tree – as it is called in other parts of India.
The theme of today’s leaf art:
The leaves of the Ashoka tree are often used in Hindu marriage ceremonies for religious as well as decorative purpose. They are strung up as toran (bunting) to decorate doors and gateways. As you may have noticed, my art reflects that – a doorway lined with toran made of zentangled Ashoka leaves. And the tangle patterns I’ve drawn highlight this theme too – the bunting tangles, the tangles in the shape of conch (which is blown in Hindu worships for its echoing sound) etc.
The Ashoka Tree
According to the field guide – Trees of Delhi – the Ashok is a tall, erect, evergreen tree from the monsoon forests of Sri Lanka, usually cultivated in a narrowly conical form with short, drooping branches – somewhat like a cypress. Its long narrow, glossy leaves with wavy edges are distinctive, but the flowers and fruit are concealed within the foliage and are seldom noticed.
Note that the name Ashok is also used for the sita-ashok (Saraca asoca) and causes much confusion. The Ashok tree that’s referred for Polyalthia longifolia is much more common in Delhi.
The bark of the Ashok tree is used medicinally to allay fevers. The even-grained wood is hollowed out to make drums in South India and for making pencils and small boxes.
If you missed my previous Leaf Art, check out here: