History of Gloranthan Art, Part V – The Lunar Empire


But, in Peloria, things are different. The EWF style are gone. And we have a long dark age.

The Carmanians embrace a formal brutalism style. Them and their gods triumphing atop piles of dead. Think Assyrian palace style. Scenes of war and scenes of authority.

The Lunar-Dara Happan revolt comes out of that tradition but tries to turn it upside down. With a naked goddess being the equal of a stern but benevolent Yelm. Standing on top of a pile of dead Carmanians and Pentans.

But also we start getting new esotericism. It could be that the Red Goddess was not even initially depicted as a deity.But just as a woman. Deliberately smaller than the gods and rulers. Naked and human, but superior to the immortal gods. And she is not depicted in a formal manner. Idealised yes, but relaxed and in dance. The Yelm cult takes its cues from here as well. Yelm gets less formalized, although continues to be idealized. Maybe even more idealized.As the Lunar Empire gets richer, the art gets better, and becomes what we now call the Old Lunar style.We get a century and a half of this Old Lunar style. And then in 1375 the Pentans come. And for nearly a century, the Pentans reduce Peloria to grasslands. People are eating mud and each other. The Lunar Empire consists of the besieged center of Glamour, some barbaric kingdoms in the south, and the Western Reaches aka Old Carmania.

Lunar art becomes cruder, poorer, and more emphatic. There is now no difference between Lunar and Dara Happan. There is simply Lunar-Pentan-Slave. Empathic in subject and very removed from the concerns of the world. Because in the real world Sheng Seleris rules. Minor victories or stalemates against Sheng Seleris are monumental triumphs!In a surprise, the Red Emperor defeats Sheng Seleris and confines him to a Lunar (ie mystical) hell. The Pentans collapse. And now the Lunar Empire is able to resettle the New Grasslands of Peloria. This is where Lunar art comes from. Restore and Rebuild. New towns need to be built. Old cities need to be rebuilt.

All quickly, all at the same time, and from the Oronin River to the Arcos. From the White Sea to the gates of Alkoth. Every town gets laid out more or less the same, with a temple complex to the Red Goddess, Yelm, Dendara, Lodril, and whoever else. All by the same architects and artists.

And although directly supervised by the Red Emperor, Great Sister, or Hon-eel, it is initially done fast and on the cheap. And some a lot better than others.

So we now have within the empire basically four styles. Three are old and can be found in:

  1. Glamour and the Tripolis;
  2. Western Reaches:
  3. Jillaro.
  4. Everywhere else.

The New Lunar style or the Lunar Heartland style.Towns are built quick. And cheap. Art is initially easy to reproduce. Very stylized and formalized. But over the next century and a half, the empire gets richer and richer and richer. So this New Lunar style gets built upon, embellished, upgraded. More elaborate and more technically skilled. But it is still based off that original post-Sheng style. But now rich Lunar priests demand that the artist display technical virtuosity and work in all sorts of Lunar motifs and esoteric references.

During Sheng’s occupation, the shift towards more empathic and non-real world related themes in art also brings in another thing. The artwork starts to depict Yelm, Lodril, Dayzatar, and all the others as idealized and perfect. These almost calming presences in the world, a source of stability amongst the chaos and horror of Sheng’s rule.Yelm is no longer that stiff, formal, restricted thing on the Gods Wall. He is still that yes, but to the masses he is also the benevolent sun god. And the Red Goddess’ divine father.

As the occupation ends, as more art gets made and the more and more money gets pumped into it, this transforms.

The Seven Mothers, Etyries , Hon-eel, etc. are depicted in a sensual, loose and free style. They are beautiful and relatable.

The Celestial Gods meanwhile are beautiful, yet perfect. They are not sensual; they are not mere mortal things. They are the perfect geometry of the world, the cosmic order.A depiction of Hon-eel or Jar-eel or Etyries shows you an idealized reflection of you, the mortal viewer.

They were born, they suffered, they transcended. Like the Goddess herself.

The depiction of Yelm shows you something else though. something still beautiful, but in a different way. It is the beauty of perfect harmony. The beauty of the cosmic order of the Golden Age.

So let’s move this forward a tiny bit more. By the 7th Wane, the Lunar Empire is ruled by Yelm illuminates of the Red Goddess cult. For generations. They are self-referential by now in the sense that their art needs to communicate with them and not so much other audiences. So in our magnificent great temple in Glamour, with gold and gems and glass, abstract depictions of Yelm and statues of Apollo, we have this crude little gold sun disk on a horse from the Dawn.