When Lovecraft set about developing his concepts for the Plateau of Leng and the Mountains of Madness, he was inspired by a show of the art of N. K. Roerich (1874-1947), a Russian artist whose visions of Tibetan buildings clutching the Himalayas gave Lovecraft some ideas.
“Possibly I have mentioned to you at various times my admiration for the work of Nicholas Roerich — the mystical Russian artist who has devoted his life to the study & portrayal of the unknown uplands of Central Asia, with their vague suggestions of cosmic wonder & terror … surely Roerich is one of those rare fantastic souls who have glimpsed the grotesque, terrible secrets outside space & beyond time, & who have retained some ability to hint at the marvels they have seen.” — Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Lillian D. Clark, May 21/22, 1930.
Here is one of Roerich's works, which is very evocative of the Old Ones' city in Antarctica:
Take a look at this stone Tiki statue from the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. This modern Tiki follows the style of stone statues carved in the area for nearly a thousand years. What do you think this looks more like: A Lovecraftian Deep One, Tsathoggua the toad-god, or Jabba the Hutt?
Note: I have placed the picture after the jump because, like much non-Western art, it contains sexually explicit imagery.
Caution: This post contains sexually suggestive early twentieth century imagery.
Recently, I've discussed the way pagan beliefs were given a Satanic cast by Christians, who turned pagan worship ceremonies into Black Masses full of sodomy and blasphemy. In 1862, Jules Michelet tried to paint a more sympathetic (if inaccurate) portrait of medieval witches by describing their faith as a pagan-influenced feminist rebellion against Catholic patriarchy. His book, La Sorcière, is known in English as Satanism and Witchcraft, and of course the weird art used to illustrate the 1911 printing of the book is something to behold.
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