So what is Purim anyway? Purim is the holiday that celebrates the Jewish people's survival against the genocidal intrigues of the evil Haman in Ancient Persia some time before the time of Christ. Whether the story of Purim is historical fact or fiction, I am not sure, but it has happened enough times throughout Jewish history to probably be true. Because the story of Purim cuts so close to the bone, Purim plays are usually done tongue in cheek and the holiday is a time for feasting and revels with no one trying to take the all-too-serious story, all-too-seriously.
That said, the story of Purim, the Biblical book of Esther, is one of the great tales of Western literature. It is the story of ordinary people, not ascetics or prophets or Saints, doing the extrodinary. Think of Esther. She was beautiful and intelligent and ambitious. She married well, becoming part of the King's of Persia's harem and disguised her Jewish heritage. In our time and part of the world, she would be joining the country club and attempting to "pass."
Unbeknownst to Esther, but well known to her savvy cousin and foster father, Mordecai, there is an evil plot afoot in the palace. Haman and his ten sons plan to murder all the Jews and give a portion of their wealth to the treasury, keeping the rest of course. The drunken and irresponsible but very powerful king agrees to this plot.
Mordecai begs Esther to speak to the King and plead for her people's life, revealing her identity and making waves. She is scaird. She is not supposed to go before the king unbidden. If she enters his presence and he does not raise the golden scepter, the penalty is death. She summons her courage and goes before the King. Actually, this is only step one as to how Esther saves the Jewish people in Persia. Esther uses her powers of social savvy to bring Haman into disfavor in the palace. If you read the story carefully, you will see that he is not hanged for genocide or even murder.
The story of Esther in the king's court must have made quite an impression on my grandmother; for it was one of the first tales she taught me, the king with his golden scepter and brave Esther making waves.
On this page are two illustrations to the story in the Book of Esther. The first is of Esther kneeling before the king. He is going to promise her anything up to "half the kingdom." Notice how he holds the golden scepter. The second image from the story features, Mordecai on horseback being led about the city of Shushan, Persia's capital, by a most unhappy Haman who is wearing his characteristic three cornered hat. The king has ordered Mordecai honored for helping to save his life early in the tale and Haman through his own stupidity finds himeslf stuck with the job.
This is one of very few Purim web pages that features cartoon art or even paintings that illustrate the story. Plastic art is a relatively new tradition for Jews who have often not drawn people due to a too literal reading of the commandment against graven images. Most Purim pages prefer to use the holiday's symbols, the hamentashcen cookies or noise makers rather than Biblical illustrations. This is because at its core Purim deals with persecution and assimilation. Both of these are touchy subjects. As a fourth generation American Jew, I figure though, that I can pretty much touch anything.
This page is part of a background set contest for Heart of an Angel. The contest asks for certain elements I would leave out if I was just putting up the design on my own. You need not use the entire background set. In fact, I think this style page works better with a table of text links, rather than the buttons.
Also, I made patterns used both in the stripe with Aki Asuwa's traditional Japanese backgrounds. Aki's site no longer exists. A large collection of these patterns can be found here.