The high visibility of the star cluster Pleiades in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern.
This video shows a staggeringly beautiful light and dance performance, choreographed and performed by Saya Watatani and Maki Yokoyama, and directed, with light animations produced by Nobuyuki Hanabusa and Seiya Ishii, with music by Nobuyuki Hanabusa.
In ancient Japanese traditions, the Pleiades is considered to be their ancestral home, as with many ancient, non-assimilated indigenous cultures spanning the globe such as the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including the Balinese people.
As told by Lawrence Blair in his book, ‘Ring of Fire’, the Balinese say that before the first human was born, the seven celestial sisters – the Nymphs of the Pleiades – using their sarongs as wings, used to descend to a sacred pool in Bali to bathe naked in the waters of the world. The prince, Raja Pala, lost on a hunting expedition, came across the pool and spied on the star nymphs. Obsessed with Siti, the youngest, he stole her sarong from the bank so that she couldn’t fly back to the stars with her startled sisters. Despite her pleas Raja Pala insisted he would only return her wings if she first bore him a child, whose eyes might always remind him of the world she came from. This child was the first human, strung between two worlds, born of a prince and a sky goddess. But before Siti returned to the stars she told Raja Pala, “You may have this child for his brief life on earth, but after that, remember, he returns to me.”
Even today, when a child cries at night, he is taken outside and shown the stars. “There is your mother,” they say, “the place we all come from and where we all return, and there is no need to weep.”