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Grievous

Orlanth's look (and other significances of visual representation)

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This kinda feels like a stupidly simple question, but I wonder: why is Orlanth blue and four (sometimes six) armed?

Having gotten my feet wet in Glorantha back in the day, this certainly wasn't how Orlanth was portrayed as I remember it, but now it seems to be his canon appearance. I love it, but I wonder where this came from?

Another thing I'm now wondering about as I look at all the god art in the Glorantha Sourcebook is all the halos. Some gods/heroes get them, others don't. I wonder at the significance there (interestingly the entire Lunar pantheon gets them - as well as Belintar, who seems the odd one out).

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As the person who drew all of those halos, there are two simple answers:
1. They look cool, I like drawing them, so I put them on people.
2. In-universe, I'd say it's a visual representation that the Pelorians use in their religious artwork, so it is included in this as well. The Halos on the Solar pantheon are  a sunburst, and only important figures in that pantheon have them, usually some the highest ranking one or the most important in a grouping. Yelm is basically all halo on there. The Lunars probably use that instead to signify a direct connection to the Red Goddess - notice how none of the Seven Mothers (save for She Who Waits, of course), has a halo, but everyone who comes from the Goddess does.

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For Orlanth's blue colouration, I'd look towards woad. (Or vice versa - woad is actually to imitate the appearance of Orlanth)

As for the arms, while it wouldn't surprise me if four was a sacred number to Orlanth (with representing his aspects, or his four weapons and thus mastery of the other elements) it's probably just to hold all his stuff. I mean, he's got to hold the thunder, the sword of death (when he's got it), the lightning spear, the dragon head, shield of Aran, bag of winds, the axe of earth, and many others beside.

Having multiple arms is very helpful.

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2 hours ago, Jenx said:

As the person who drew all of those halos, there are two simple answers:
1. They look cool, I like drawing them, so I put them on people.
2. In-universe, I'd say it's a visual representation that the Pelorians use in their religious artwork, so it is included in this as well. The Halos on the Solar pantheon are  a sunburst, and only important figures in that pantheon have them, usually some the highest ranking one or the most important in a grouping. Yelm is basically all halo on there. The Lunars probably use that instead to signify a direct connection to the Red Goddess - notice how none of the Seven Mothers (save for She Who Waits, of course), has a halo, but everyone who comes from the Goddess does.

Cool. I didn't think about it from the in-world religious representation angle, but my mind kinda already incorporate the halos as a visual sign of Lunar magic (and now seeing the Solars have 'em, why not for them too) happening. That's probably from seeing them occur "real time" in the King of Sartar comic. They are definitely a cool gimmick!

Your comment about She Who Waits actually brought up a pretty obvious connection that I never really thought about (though I probably should've). The being who the Red Goddess will become in the future took part in creating her in the past. Now that's mastery of Time!

 

1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

For Orlanth's blue colouration, I'd look towards woad. (Or vice versa - woad is actually to imitate the appearance of Orlanth)

As for the arms, while it wouldn't surprise me if four was a sacred number to Orlanth (with representing his aspects, or his four weapons and thus mastery of the other elements) it's probably just to hold all his stuff. I mean, he's got to hold the thunder, the sword of death (when he's got it), the lightning spear, the dragon head, shield of Aran, bag of winds, the axe of earth, and many others beside.

Having multiple arms is very helpful.

Yeah, I can see a sort of inversion of the "barbarians in woad" thing there (though that's an inversion on the meta level). The odd thing about it is that conjures up questions about the blue-skinned peoples of Glorantha (usually associated with the watery folks) and any relations to Orlanth, but I guess there's room for multiple kinds of folk to have the same skin tone in there, esp. since if Orlanth wants to be blue, he can be bloody blue by me.

I'd love to have multiple arms, sure. I guess I need to go do some Heroquesting.

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Certainly there's some "natural blue" Orlanthi. But they tend to be Helerings.

Interestingly, with Heler it's noted in the prosopaedia that he is never shown with weapons to show that his blueness isn't woad, as woad is used only by warriors. It's possible that because of this, depictions of Orlanth as Orlanthcarl, Allfather, and similar wouldn't have blue skin. (Looking more like Barntar's ruddy skin in the sourcebook.)

Obviously, YGWV here.

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I suspect Orlanth has brown/tan skin in some representations. The blue is partly because of the color of stormy clouds and sky, methinks. So the Storm/Rain/War aspects - which overlap - are probably blue and the steadholder/chief aspects are brown... Woad would then be an attempt to low-key hero form the god, then, I suppose.

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5 hours ago, Jenx said:

As the person who drew all of those halos, there are two simple answers:
1. They look cool, I like drawing them, so I put them on people.
2. In-universe, I'd say it's a visual representation that the Pelorians use in their religious artwork, so it is included in this as well. The Halos on the Solar pantheon are  a sunburst, and only important figures in that pantheon have them, usually some the highest ranking one or the most important in a grouping. Yelm is basically all halo on there. The Lunars probably use that instead to signify a direct connection to the Red Goddess - notice how none of the Seven Mothers (save for She Who Waits, of course), has a halo, but everyone who comes from the Goddess does.

Your concepts for a representation for the Pelorians, Yelmalions, and Lunars all make sense, but how would you personally think the Orlanthi would represent him? I have trouble with the idea that the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, or those of the East Wilds in Ralios, would adapt any Pelorian or Yelmalion, or especially Lunar, imagery into their own representations.

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6 hours ago, Grievous said:

This kinda feels like a stupidly simple question, but I wonder: why is Orlanth blue and four (sometimes six) armed?

The Storm pantheon seems to be associated with the colors blue, orange, white. The blue is possibly not just the 'sky' blue as that's a result of Water invading the Sky, but also the color of an electric discharge - the color of lightning. The number of arms may relate to the number of Winds, and also imply the Movement of Air in motion.

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5 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

The Storm pantheon seems to be associated with the colors blue, orange, white. The blue is possibly not just the 'sky' blue as that's a result of Water invading the Sky, but also the color of an electric discharge - the color of lightning. The number of arms may relate to the number of Winds, and also imply the Movement of Air in motion.

Actual I'm pretty sure it's been said that Gloranthan lightning is orangish rather than blue, as orange is the color of storm. Blue represents rain and/or storm's victory over water I believe, and white is the color of clouds and silver, the metal of the middle air.

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6 hours ago, Grievous said:

why is Orlanth blue and four (sometimes six) armed?

Regarding arms, think storm clouds.  Arms appear or disappear as needed as the clouds build up.  The picture before p.1 actually has 5 arms.

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8 hours ago, Grievous said:

I'd love to have multiple arms, sure. I guess I need to go do some Heroquesting.

The most powerful combat cult that no one new about in RQ3 was the mihjy Gorakiki Beetle, the only cult that had magic to give you extra arms that you could use to wield extra weapons. Their other spells weren’t bad either. 

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14 hours ago, Grievous said:

This kinda feels like a stupidly simple question, but I wonder: why is Orlanth blue and four (sometimes six) armed?

Having gotten my feet wet in Glorantha back in the day, this certainly wasn't how Orlanth was portrayed as I remember it, but now it seems to be his canon appearance. I love it, but I wonder where this came from?

Another thing I'm now wondering about as I look at all the god art in the Glorantha Sourcebook is all the halos. Some gods/heroes get them, others don't. I wonder at the significance there (interestingly the entire Lunar pantheon gets them - as well as Belintar, who seems the odd one out).

Orlanth is blue because he is the Air God. Umath, Vadrus, Orlanth, Kolat, etc. all are depicted as blue. Storm Bull has blue (but he's reddish from the Copper Sands) and even Humakt is blue-black. Wind Lords brew woad to make themselves more like Orlanth.

Orlanth has many arms to visually represent the breadth of his power. He is Adventurous, he is Thunderous (four arms). He has taken weapons from all the other elements (four arms). He is Adventurous, Thunderous, and Rex (five or six arms). He is Movement and Change and can add arms when needed.  

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10 hours ago, Timothy1007 said:

Your concepts for a representation for the Pelorians, Yelmalions, and Lunars all make sense, but how would you personally think the Orlanthi would represent him? I have trouble with the idea that the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, or those of the East Wilds in Ralios, would adapt any Pelorian or Yelmalion, or especially Lunar, imagery into their own representations.

The Genealogies, you have to remember, come from Notchet in-universe.

Also, I am not sure who's "him" that you're asking about? Orlanth?

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11 hours ago, Timothy1007 said:

I have trouble with the idea that the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, or those of the East Wilds in Ralios, would adapt any Pelorian or Yelmalion, or especially Lunar, imagery into their own representations.

Cultures are porous over any historical period. The Orlanthi of Dragon Pass are not that culturally different to the Tarshites, and the Tarshites use lots of Pelorian imagery, and a few artists copy the others, and eventually it just becomes a cultural shorthand that everyone knows and few people think of as ‘Northern’ any more. You don’t have to accept its validity to do so - a guy does a cool picture of Yelmalio, and it ends up with some of the imagery and techniques being imitated by Elmal adherents to show that he is even cooler, and a few years later, that’s just how you represent sun gods. 

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59 minutes ago, davecake said:

Cultures are porous over any historical period. The Orlanthi of Dragon Pass are not that culturally different to the Tarshites, and the Tarshites use lots of Pelorian imagery, and a few artists copy the others, and eventually it just becomes a cultural shorthand that everyone knows and few people think of as ‘Northern’ any more. You don’t have to accept its validity to do so - a guy does a cool picture of Yelmalio, and it ends up with some of the imagery and techniques being imitated by Elmal adherents to show that he is even cooler, and a few years later, that’s just how you represent sun gods. 

And who is to say that what you think of as "Pelorian" isn't derived from Esrolia artisans in the Second or even late First Age? It is worth keeping in mind that Nochet is the city of sculpture going back to the Silver Age (during the time of Panaxles the Architect and Seserto the Artist).

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10 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

You remember it from where?

To be honest I don't really remember a place where Orlanth was consistently and definitely depicted, but I'm talking about a general feel for his appearance I've picked up from Hero Wars/Heroquest era material (and also some Runequest stuff I've seen). Basically, I remember him as a bare-chested ur-Orlanthi, not much different from the Orlanthi you might otherwise see or maybe even from a generalized vision of Thor. I guess he could've been blue back then as well, but I only remember black and white pictures.

To re-iterate a point made elsewhere, I'm very stoked to see a more consistent visual depiction of various gods and other things being a part of modern Glorantha. I'm also very interested in the decisions, influences and considerations that go into developing the Gloranthan look, hence this thread. There's still so many things I'd like to see more visual representations of (I wasn't expecting to see a depiction of the Red Emperor- even if rather small - in the Sourcebook, something which I've wanted to see for a long time), but I'm loving what we're getting and they are a big part of making this setting really take over real estate in my mind.

Edited by Grievous

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Jeff has leaked Art Direction before, when he didn't use the text bits for image captions anyway, but I am all for teasing his real world inspiration links out here.

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15 hours ago, Grievous said:

Basically, I remember him as a bare-chested ur-Orlanthi, not much different from the Orlanthi you might otherwise see or maybe even from a generalized vision of Thor. I guess he could've been blue back then as well, but I only remember black and white pictures.

I guess Deities don't have to be consistent - perhaps Orlanth only has additional arms when he needs them. Perhaps he is blue skinned, or perhaps Air Gods are all depicted in Gloranthan art works as having blue skin.

I guess I like the different interpretations

Also, is this Orlanth?:

 

unnamed (1).jpg

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Yeah I just got back home and checked the G2G and realised that wasnt Orlanth at all...funny how that got mixed up in my mind

I checked back in here to amend that part of my post, but the damage was already done 😊

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1 hour ago, Mankcam said:

I guess Deities don't have to be consistent - perhaps Orlanth only has additional arms when he needs them. Perhaps he is blue skinned, or perhaps Air Gods are all depicted in Gloranthan art works as having blue skin.

 

Just some notes on this - Yes, in general most Air gods are depicted as blue-skinned by most Heortlings. This is also why heortlings tend to favour blue tattoos and body paint. it's an effort to emulate ancestors like Vingkot, who were also blue as a result to their close connection to the Storm Tribe.

As for having multiple arms...I don't know how to say this, but that's just an artistic depiction. The reason a lot of Earth cultures depict such beings with multiple arms is because you need some way of showing all the symbols of a god's power, and..well, he has to be holding those somewhere, right? So you just give him extra arms to hold them.

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The question of artistic interpretation in Glorantha isn't exactly comparable to our world, though. Considering these people have actually seen their gods, they would depict them as they experience them. Sure, there'd be artistic license, which could put multiple arms where there originally wasn't and such and there would be differences between people/experiences, which would account for variety. Of course, there'd also probably be a feedback loop there where the artistic depictions would actually start changing the actual visuals when the gods are encountered, which really touches on plenty of themes about Gloranthan metaphysics. Still there is a living connection to the gods which is of a different order from mystical experiences in our world.

I'll also slightly disagree with multiple arms in our real world being only to hold more stuff - visuals like that are a feature of mystical and/or psychedelic experiences in our world, too, or at least are a close approximation of a visual experience that is otherwise nigh impossible to convey.

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4 hours ago, Grievous said:

I'll also slightly disagree with multiple arms in our real world being only to hold more stuff - visuals like that are a feature of mystical and/or psychedelic experiences in our world, too, or at least are a close approximation of a visual experience that is otherwise nigh impossible to convey.

The same might also be true of depicting experiences from Heroquests. Kalin’s quest scenes in Prince of Sartar do have a distinct psychedelic aspect that works really well. Also Greg has said that different people’s experiences of a quest can be radically different, so it’s not as though everyone that does a certain quest will all have the same experience of a deity.

I had the good fortune to play in a quest run by Greg, it was a rulesless narative game where Greg just decided how actions worked out, but importantly it was very difficult to identify specific entities. Some were reasonably clear, but others were very difficult and we suffered greatly from some unfortunate misidentifications. For example if you went on a quest which involves meeting Orlanth, suppose Vadrus, or Gagarth or even Heler turned up unexpectedly how could you be absolutely sure to tell the difference? You might think you’d already got to the point where you meet Orlanth, only to find out later that you actually hadn’t! What happened to us is we were expecting to meet and fight Fenris, but instead ended up friendly-firing Yinkin. Well it was dark! So you can’t always trust what you see in quests.

Simon Hibbs

Edited by simonh
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