Monday, 6 June 2011

Astaroth: development and symbolism

Photo, model, concept, manipulation, styling, hair, make up, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), (wings)

I first came across Astaroth’s figure through kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary and he immediately became one of my favourite characters from the manga. Kaori’s depiction of him is just helplessly fascinating and sensual and that’s what got me into the character/Demon. I mentioned in the post about the project that my first inspiration for the series came from the manga and Astaroth was one of the most motivating parts. No wonder I decided to portray him myself and start off the project with him.
Astaroth from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary
Astaroth from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
Along with Astarte, this Demon is the one in which Kaori’s influence is most notable, both in the characterisation and aesthetics. For instance, when browsing through the various sources, I mainly considered the informations that she used as well, hence sticking more closely to Sebastian Michaelis, according to whom Astaroth is a former Prince of Thrones who tempts men to be indolent. Beside useful because it contained information about what Astaroth was up to before being cast out of Heaven, this information automatically dismissed Belphegor as a potential Demon of Sloth in my series.
Also, even though I knew that Astaroth’s Christian figure was derived from the Semitic Goddess Astarte, I ignored the fact that their figure was mostly unified after the “demonisation”, sticking to the very thin trace of Astarte’s independent demonic figure to reinforce my own rendition of two twin Demons. Astaroth’s peerage as a Duke was taken directly from The Lesser Key Of Solomon, while I associated him with Air because he kills people by breathing. Of course, all of his network and relationships were all made up by me.
Aesthetically speaking, even discounting Kaori’s strong influence, the “official” depiction of Astaroth played a big role in my concept. If you look at it, it is quite unusual compared to other Demons. He’s represented as a naked and, all in all, good-looking Fallen Angel, whose monstrous characteristics are quite limited if compared to others:
Astaroth from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
I refused to get naked myself but I decided give a twist to Kaori’s depiction with a more luring touch to fit the original character. Kaori’s influence is most noticeable in the hairstyle, with the messy high ponytail falling all around the head.
The symbolism in this work is quite minimal: the languid pose and unshaven beard recall sloth and the misty texture recalls Astaroth’s powers over Air. The seal is taken directly from The Lesser Key Of Solomon while the symbol on the forehead is a direct homage to the manga. Crimson being the theme-colour of the whole work, most noticeably on the wings, is a reference to poppies, a notoriously sleep-inducing flower. I decided to deliberately ignore the fact that he is supposed to carry a viper, as there is plenty of other Demons who associate with snakes and it would have been superfluous.
Empty by Theatre of Tragedy was chosen as the theme-song due to its sensually indolent mood and the mention to the loitering of time.

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing! thank you \(^=^)/
    Astaroth was my favorite from AS, too!