Sho Ea

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Sho Ea
artist and philosopher

Sho Ea was an Indigenous Ariddian artist and philosopher of Ariddia's pre-colonial era. He is believed to have lived in the early fifteenth century, at a time when Wymgani were exploring the far seas and the outside world, coming into early contact with foreign peoples.

Ea was born and lived on the island of Wueliw, not far from where the city of Wavecrest now stands. He revolutionised Indigenous art by introducing the conceptualisation of identity into body painting and tattooing. While body decoration had long been a form of identity expression, Ea reflected upon the relations between art, self-expression and identity, and encouraged the people he knew to define themselves, their place in the community and their genealogical identity, through body art.

Ea also sought to define the specificities of Wymgani communal identities, and of Wymgani identity as opposed to the identities of foreign peoples. The era he lived in enabled him to learn about foreign customs, habits and beliefs, and he is thought to have travelled to foreign lands on at least two occasions to study them. He is considered to have been one of Ariddia's major philosophers.

It is also believed he may have been influenced in his research by fourteenth century explorer and anthropologist Wa We, from the island of Ocea.

As writing did not exist in fifteenth century Ariddia, there is no written record of Ea's work, thoughts and teachings. They survived in oral form until they were finally written down, in the late seventeenth century, by European anthropologists, at the urging of Wymgani elders. It is assumed that Ea's thoughts, conclusions and beliefs may have been altered and partially lost through successive retellings over almost three hundred years, but to a significant extent his work was indeed preserved in oral records.

None of Ea's art remains, however, having been entirely performed upon the perishable canvas of human skin.