“Kamadhenu” (Wish Tree Dress III) – On Sound in Ether and Artistic Inspiration

MM 1 final 300 dpi without 1

Mandali Mendrilla’s sketch for the sculpture dress named ‘Kamadhenu'(Wish Tree Dress III), executed in peace silk, peacock feathers and ecological textile ink.

Just as I was about to explain the mood board behind the Kamadhenu dress, the third in the Wish Tree Dress series, and the second in my Yantra Couture™ series, I happened upon an article about the latest haute couture collection by the amazing Iris Van Herpen.

Ms. Van Herpen’s admirable collection attempts to portray sound waves as perceived during cymatic experiments through fantastic pleat arrangements and other innovative techniques. I was excited and thrilled to see her masterful collection.

Ms. Van Herpen and I had never met and I’m quite sure her inspiration is unrelated to my work. Nor was my inspiration for this mood board related to her work.

Interestingly enough, imagery portraying diagrams created by sound waves appears in the Kamadhenu mood board, made at the end of 2015, shortly after the Chinese exhibition of the Mandala of Desires (Blue Lotus Wish Tree), the pattern of which was entirely based on a Yantra diagram. These elements entered the mood board when I started searching for scientific proof of the subtle effects of Yantras on energetic layers of human existence.

yantra moodboard6

My current understanding is that images generated by cymatic experiments and Yantra diagrams are somewhat related, in that both attempt to portray the visual manifestation of sound.

Attempting to further elaborate on the topic of artistic inspiration and synchronicity, I will express my impression of the interconnection of all beings through elements of nature.

When studying the nature of the phenomenal world through the teachings of the commentary on Vedanta Sutra, the Bhagavata Purana, I discovered an interesting specification of energies that compose the world, described as the 25 elements. Amongst those, ‘ether’ is described as the element internally and externally providing space to the to the living beings, as well as the field of activities of the vital air (prana), the senses and the mind. Interestingly, it is described therein that using subtle sound (one produced by silent meditation, thinking), the ether becomes the vehicle for creation of the sense of touch, which provides us with the experience of air and active perception. Air moves and carries particles (atoms, dust etc.) and waves of sound.

It seems like ether would be a certain repository of ‘subtle sounds’, thoughts, mental images, into which artists seem to be mentally connecting to find or place their inspiration. We choose from images, sounds, feelings… ‘in the air’ through the medium of subtle existence that we choose to identify with at a given moment (the subtle body of a being is described by different schools of though in different ways, but mostly it is understood to be made of limited particles composing mind, intelligence and ego, and one or more unlimited particles, the atma or the ‘self’, the observer and activator; an atma is said to be able to choose to identify with any subtle level limited particles and think that this is its nature, or it may be free of identification with limited particles altogether), and give it our own individual interpretation. It is beautiful to live in a world where one may find like minded individuals in their own line of work.

An interesting artist I recently encountered was Nikolay Eremin of Nimere perfumes, an indie perfumer from St. Petersburgh. When I was searching for press articles on the Mandala of Desires dress, I discovered a fragrance by the same name, created in the same year as the sculpture dress I created. Nikolai and me soon connected online and both marvelled at the seeming coincidence. He sent me a sample of the mesmerising fragrance.

mandala of desires perfume nimere parfums

When I applied the fragrance, I remembered the scent of the whorl of a lotus flower, enveloped in strong layers of the following notes:

Top notes: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Chocolate.
Heart notes: Iris, Ylang-ylang, Violet.
Base notes: Vanilla, Cocoa Beans, Tonka Beans, Tolu balm, Benzoin Sumatra.   

Over the years I discovered and marvelled at numerous occurrences such as above described and was increasingly happy to be part of a world connected on a higher platform than the one afforded by developments in technology external to the potential contained in the human body.

The mood board of the Kamadhenu dress, as seen in the first image, further contained the yantra diagram that is described in a section of the Pancharatra, to be generated by the combination of syllables invoking the goddess Kamadhenu.

As this design was meant to be a Wish Tree Dress, I chose the story of goddess Kamadhenu as inspiration, since the goddess is one of the beings described as living in the higher planets and fulfilling all desires. The breathtaking image of goddess Kamadhenu consists of a female torso, body of a cow, wings of angels and a peacock feather tail. A part of the mood board was this is an image of the goddess drawn by Drdha Gorrick, a master of South Indian art whom I collaborated with when designing the LALALALI collection:

kamadhenu drdha gorrick mendrilla yantra dress inspiration



The Pancaratra mentions that the limited section of surrounding energy (as described above) vibrates in three general modes – goodness (sattva), passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas), while the unlimited section of energy is transcendental to those three.

Yantras are created with sound pertaining to the three modes or with transcendental sound. I attempted to use Yantras created with transcendental sound as the bases of the patterns of the Mandala of Desires and the Kamadhenu Wish Tree Dress.

Several illustrations by british illustrator Warwick Goble played a part in the mood board, especially the ‘Moon Maiden’created for “Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales”.

warvick gobble moon maiden

Fascinated by individual elements of a peacock feather and the usage of feathers by Monsieur Lagerfeld in the following dress (image source), I created a neck made entirely of thin peacock feather components:

karl lagerfeld haute couture met museum


MM 1 explanation

mendrilla kamadhenu dress pattern based on a yantra

The Kamadhenu dress was premiered at the recent Fashion Week Zagreb by performance artist Snježana Kovačić who closed the Mandali Mendrilla runway show.

Snjezana Kovacic Kamadhenu FWZ 1

The dress was later exhibited as an interactive art installation during 8th Days of India at Park Zrinjevac in Zagreb, where it received hundreds of visitors and was introduced by the Ambassador of India to Croatia, His Excellency Mr. Sandeep Kumar, as symbolising friendship between the two countries (photo: N. Mendrila).

mendrilla zrinjevac paviljon

mendrilla zrinjevac 3

mendrilla zelja na haljini 3

The dress featured an embroidery collaboration with Ukrainian artist Eugenie Yasnaya.

mendrilla zrinjevac haljina detail 2

My press statement about the exhibition in Zagreb:

“The philosophy of works created at Mandali Mendrilla Atelier is closely connected to studying laws of nature. Through studying Ayurveda, Vastu and Feng Shui, eastern sciences on health and design, as well as the science of mantra meditation, i discovered the anatomy of Yantras – ancient diagrams that depict sounds said to be the bases of perceptible reality. It is said that with Yantras, one can harmonise energies in space, strengthen positive influences and give the body and the mind a superb aesthetic experience. Mandali Mendrilla Atelier dresses based on Yantras elevate all levels of human existence and radiate positive energy. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Days of India and the citizens of Zagreb for their warm welcome and participation in this exciting art installation.”

– Mandali


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