huà shé tiān zú
Literally translated, it says 'drawing a snake, adding feet', and means that you're adding something unnecessary that's destroying what you're doing. My mum told me that the saying came from this story: some men were having a competition, to see who could draw a snake fastest in the sand. One man drew his snake very fast, and, seeing that his friends were nowhere near finishing, he added legs to the snake to fill up the time. But of course, once legs are added to a snake, it ceases to be a snake.
|Left ring: Aida Bergsen|
Right ring: Afends
This year, Sunday 10th February is Chinese New Year. 女娲, the Snake Goddess, created humans from clay in a Chinese creation myth. Due to snakes' ability to shed their skin, they have been for many millenia associated with rebirth and fertility. If you've read or watched Fullmetal Alchemist, you'll no doubt be familiar with the Ouroboros, a snake or dragon eating its own tail, representing cyclicality.
As a design element, one can get infinitely creative with the versatile shape of a snake, making for some superbly interesting jewellery designs.
|Left necklace: Plukka|
Earrings: Percossi Papi
Right necklace: Ileana Makri
In many cultures, snakes or serpents represent wisdom, as well as both death and healing: Asclepios, the Greek God of medicine, is often depicted with a snake, and Gorgon blood was said to be able to kill or revive, depending on which side of the Gorgon it was taken from. When threatened, snakes also have a tendency to stand their ground and fight rather than retreat. Consequently they are often used as guardians to sacred sites, in the form of carvings and statues.
|Left bracelet: Roberto Cavalli|
Right bracelet: Wildfox
Has anyone been watching Africa, the BBC documentary? One of my favourite parts was the python mother. Being ectothermic - cold-blooded - she basks in the sun to raise her body temperature. But the mother python stays in the sun for so long, her body temperature becomes dangerously high, only retreating just before she does herself permanent damage. She then goes to her brood of eggs and wraps herself around them to incubate them. So tight is her hold, that you can see the imprint of her scales on the eggs' surface.