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The Uktena by Ashere The Uktena by Ashere
The grandfather of serpents, the Cherokee say, dwells in high mountains and deep waters. Spangles of iridescent light glimmer from the feathers along its back, and on its fearsome head there is a diamond that seethes with power. Those brave enough and clever enough--those who can rest the diamond away--enjoy great strength and fortune. But they are seldom happy for long. The great serpent is as much spirit as flesh, and no man was meant to touch something that throbs with the unreal. Even so much as breathing its air can cause a man to sicken and die.
So the Cherokee avoid the black ponds and shun the high mountain hollows. Even the power of a diamond is not worth the wrath of the Uktena.
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indigomagpie Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2015
Are those its eyes or its nostrils?
Ashere Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Eyes! Inasmuch as this version has them. 
geekspace Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012
Those nifty antlers & exposed skull structure-especially the separated jawbones-truly bring this entity together. Incidentally, is the dead tree in that smaller pic supposed to indicate the scale I suspect it does?
Ashere Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yep. It's a big sucker. I took the motif of native american entities having skull-like faces and really ran with it on this one, primarily because it helps tie the antlers to the head in a way a flesh version didn't really succeed with. I didn't want it to look like a dragon. I wanted it to look like a spirit, something that shouldn't exist but somehow does.
geekspace Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012
Well, antlers (to say nothing of rattles) strike me as atypical enough for non-Asian wyrms that you'd have been clear either way, but the spirit angle works all too well. Kinda surprised there isn't some crazy fate-related thing tied to the rattle (like, say, bad luck if it shakes once, a pox on your lands if it shakes thrice, etc.).
Ashere Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, the Cherokee don't appear to have considered it like that; the serpent in general is a mystic creature and bad luck to be around. The only specific thing considered to be portentous about it was the diamond scale on its head. It was supposed to grant great luck, but some stories hint at the luck coming at the expense of others in the village. And the acquiring of such a diamond is, of course, insanely dangerous.

The Uktena has some authority over other snakes as well, but I can't figure out what it is. It's mentioned offhandedly in one of the books of Cherokee myth, so in my imagination that means where it dens there tend to be rattlesnakes and copperheads and other snakes denning with it.
geekspace Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
As if nicking the snazzy rock wouldn't be hazardous enough without the additional need to watch your feet. Plus, I suppose they could all serve as a psychic 'silent alarm': what one senses, the Uktena knows...
TheArchosaurQueen Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hah, so that’s the native American version of Quetzalcoatl.

Nice job.
Vahzah-Dovahkiin Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
You live!
Ashere Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I do! I have returned from Guatemala and have art to share. There's another illustration going up very soon--a dinosaur I've never illustrated before. :)
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Submitted on
July 18, 2012
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