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Friday, June 26, 2020

Focus on Design: "Psychostasia"

Today we are going to take a closer look at our featured design titled "Psychostasia": let's delve a bit into the story behind this word, its meaning, and then see the peculiar twist it took in our very own version.

The word originates from Ancient Greek and combines the terms: "ψυχή" ("psukhḗ"), meaning soul, spirit, the animating principle of life; and "στάσις" ("stásis"), in its meaning of weighing; it refers to the belief that a divine being weighs the human soul and judge it accordingly.
Certainly the best known origin of the Psychostasia comes from Ancient Egypt, where it was conceived as the weighing of a person's heart after death: the heart was considered the source of human wisdom and the center of thought, memory and emotion, and it was believed that Anubis, the famous jackal-headed God, put the heart of the deceased people on trial, by weighing it against the feather of the Goddess Maat (goddess of truth, order and justice)[1,2].

That same notion of weighing the human's soul, with some slight differences, spread across different cultures.

In Ancient Greece, we find it for example in Aeschylus' play titled "Psychostasia" which tells how the fates of Achilles and Memnon were weighed by Hermes during their combat and the scene can be seen depicted on some vases, too. [3,4].
In Christianity, the Weighing of the Souls is traditionally attributed to St. Michael during the Judgement Day, and the Archangel is often depicted holding a scale. [5,6].
It is a scene that can be found also depicted on several medieval depictions. [7].

Our own version

In our design, we revisited the concept of Psychostasia in a different way and gave it our own twist: the female anatomical figure, chosen to represent the ability to see inside the human body, is holding a sickle, a nod to Saturn, the great Judge; and in the other hand she holds a scale on which she is weighing a brain against a heart: instead of weighing souls, she has on one plate of the scale human cognition and rationality, and on the other plate, human emotions and imagination.
The Psychostasia design is available at The Thorny Juniper online shop on plenty of styles of t-shirts, tops and hoodies; on two types of dresses, on tote bags, zipper pouch, pillows, posters, clock, prints, stickers and more!

Further readings and sources:
1. "The book of death: weighing your heart"
2."The Weighing of the Heart Ceremony"
3. "Hermes Psychostasia"
4."The Psychostasia of Memnon"
5. Hans Memling's "Last Judgement", c. late 1460s, National Museum, Gdańsk
6."Archangel Michael Weighing Souls"
7.The Weighing of Souls: Stock Photos and Images.

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