October 2009

The Henna “Paradise” Guitar

The henna design for the Henna Paradise was executed by U.K. Henna artist Alex Morgan especially for Luna Guitars and is based on The Conference of the Birds, one of the great works of world literature by Farid ud-Din Attar. In it, Attar explores the nature of the spiritual path through an allegory of a rich tapestry of birds. They fly like a magic carpet of exuberant color in search of their “king”, a mythical peacock-like bird known as the great Simorgh who has dropped a golden feather.

They travel through the peaks of exultation and the valleys of despair. One by one, different birds drop out of the journey, each unable to endure and offering an excuse.
Eventually only thirty birds remain as they finally arrive in the land of Simorgh — all they see there are each other and the reflection of the thirty birds in a lake — not the mythical Simorgh. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realise that Simorgh is nothing more than their own reflection….they are all “Kings”.

The main elements of the story can be found on the front of the Paradise. The Simorgh can be seen on the lower bout of the Paradise guitar.

One of its dropped feathers grace the headstock while two others can be found beneath the sound hole and tucked under the bridge.
Feather Headstock

bridge feather

The birds on the journey to find the fabled Simorgh are hidden in the henna design…you can see hints of their bodies, heads and wings if you look closely.

In one of the many folk tales that have sprung around this folk tale, a hero rescues Simurgh’s off-springs by killing a snake that is crawling up the tree to feed upon them and is granted 3 feathers with which to call for help. The snake is an enemy of the Simurg and can be clearly seen on the upper bout of the guitar under the sound hole.

Attar was the predecessor of the great Persian Sufi poet Jalalludin Rumi, who borrowed Attar’s technique of weaving wisdom within entertaining and amusing tales.
Coleman Barks, one of America’s most favorite Rumi translators, has this to say about Attar:

“Attar, along with Chaucer and Dante, is a great genius of community and how that involves the path toward enlightenment. We are these bird-beings searching for the source of what we are together.”

What a lovely thought!


Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

Instrument Inspiration

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Polar Bear Blues

I went to a poetry reading last evening at the Karma Cafe to hear a friend of mine, Richard Downing, do a reading from his recent book Four Steps Off the Path. This one is about global warming. What does global warming have to do with guitars? Read on.

Polar Bear Blues
— for Magic Slim & the Teardrops

It’s not that the polar bears didn’t try
to adapt. One bear gave a shot
at becoming a blues musician,

Chicago blues specifically. Got him
a custom designed Luna guitar
and some Magic

Slim CDs out of a trapper’s house
he scavenged whenever
the owner was busy setting his snares.

Smacked the door open with a large white
paw. Checked the fridge first
before sampling the music

room. Even made a special trip to take
an amplifier. Toted the whole haul
far out onto the tundra,

set up as best he could on an ice floe,
glacial backdrop, a few curious seals
for fans, one penguin

who swore he was not an agent,
that he was just there because
where else was he supposed to be?

What the bear could never figure
was how to scavenge

an opposable thumb,
an appreciative audience.


Flotsam & Jetsam

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The Zen Guitar

I was studying Tai Chi and learning a “Bagua” warmup routine when the idea of the Zen guitar came to me. Zen is, by it’s very nature, hard to talk about…..like the proverbial finger pointing beyond itself to the moon. It is a state of no-mind in which thought, emotions, and expectations do not matter.




The calligraphy on the neck was inspired by Zen calligraphy. Truly skillful Zen calligraphy is not the product of intense “practice”; rather, it is best achieved as the product of the “no-mind” state, a high level of spirituality, and a heart free of disturbances. It is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism, which stresses a connection to the spiritual rather than the physical. The characters on the neck symbolize Wisdom, Beauty, Truth, Courage, Grace, Peace and Love. Calligraphy ensconced on the heel cap translates Light.




Even more ancient than Tai Chi, the circle walking techniques of Bagua were developed over four thousand years ago in Taoist monasteries as a health and meditation art. The techniques open up the possibilities of the mind to achieve stillness and clarity; generate a strong, healthly, disease-free body; and, perhaps more importantly, maintain internal balance while either your inner world or the events of the external world of the external world are rapidly changing.

The Bagua, literally “eight symbols”, is a fundamental philosophical concept in ancient China. It is generally represented with an octagonal diagram with one trigram on each side. The concept of Bagua is applied not only to I Ching and Chinese Taoist thought, but is also used in other streams of Chinese culture, such as Feng Shui, martial arts and navigation.

OCLZEN sound hole

I came across a very interesting article on using the Bagua as it relates to the guitar. The first section gives an introduction to the Bagua, and the second launches into some innovative ways to explore the guitar as 8 different instruments based on the system. For those of you so inclined, have fun!

Last, but not least…..someone turned me onto a very cool interactive website on Zen. Definitely worth exploring!!!!! The inscrutable picture below is from the landing page.


Yvonne www.lunaguitars.com

Instrument Inspiration

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