Since my previous post about my currency project, I managed to go to the Laser Lab and engrave the symbols I created on Illustrator to each of the coins, then painted them with watercolor and let them dry after an hour or so (see “Painting Materials” above). I actually made a mistake on the Iron Cuoro (the gray one with the castle on it) since I didn’t position the coin correctly under the laser, causing it to engrave the symbol slightly off-center. I improvised, went back to Illustrator, and created a simple sword design to go in the extra space to the left of the coin, then re-engraved the coin, not moving it from position. Swords are made of iron or steel so it still fits contextually within the parameters of the meaning of the coins in terms of color, size, and symbol. In addition to the coins, I was originally planning on also having an accompanying set of “heart dollars” that would match in value to the US $1, $5, $10, $20, $5o, and $100 bill but didn’t get a chance to finish creating them on Illustrator past the Blackheart Dollar (seen above). I took inspiration from various foreign dollars but also the American dollar, even denoting the dollar is “legal tender for all emotional debts and expenses” to make it official, and sealing it with a heart imprint above the “legal tender” to make it even more legitimate. The “Central Bank of Altruism” is an ironic tongue-in-cheek satire on the typical conceptualization of banks as being selfish and greedy, since in my fantasy society, banks are altruistic to a fault and give love rather than simple currency.
The purplish-black and smallest coin is the Black Cuoro and has a stylized, thorny crack going diagonally down the middle. The crack is supposed to represent the notion of a broken heart, and the thorny appendages represent something about a black, evil heart that is inherently toxic and poisonous (as, in this fantasy society, the most selfish and cruel people are made social pariahs– the lowest and poorest members of society in the filthiest caste). It is no coincidence that good people are said to have “big hearts”, while, incidentally, bad people are said to have “small hearts” with almost no love inside. The size of the coin, I realized in my presentation of the currency, subconsciously played a role in its interpretative meaning, and I had no idea until my Prof. pointed it out to me.
The light blue coin is the Glass Cuoro (one notch above the Black Cuoro), and its crystalline symbol at its center represents the poetic notion of a “glass heart” — someone who is very sensitive, and whose emotions are very fragile and easily broken. Not necessarily evil, of course, but unable to face the harsh realities of life. The Glass Cuoro is as small as the Black Cuoro because in this society, cruelty and emotional weakness/fragility are seen almost as negatively as each other.
The gray coin, as I mentioned, is the Iron Cuoro (one notch above the Glass Cuoro), and it represents those who have Iron wills or robust Iron hearts full of determination and perseverance. However, with an Iron heart comes a certain coldness or lack of emotional affect that, while greater and more celebrated than the cruelty of the black hearted or the fragility of the glass hearted, is lesser than the purity and goodness of the higher valued coins. This is why the Iron Cuoro is medium-sized (some love and kindness exists, but not in copious amounts). The off-center castle and sword are symbols of solidarity and strength, of resolute stoicism and greatness of character. This coin and the Silver Cuoro tend to be used by the middle classes.
The faded turquoise or green coin is the Silver Cuoro, whose symbol I had to redesign to fit into the coin itself. Vaguely lotus or flower-like but also emblematic of sharp crystals, the Silver Cuoro is similar to the Glass Cuoro on a superficial level, but is actually quite different in meaning. The Silver Cuoro, as a noble metal next to gold, and representative of luxury and purity in alchemy, means many things to many different people. Silver is associated with the Moon and its silver moonlight, which is a mere reflection of the Sun’s own natural light. Silver Cuoros can thus be interpreted as denoting people with goodness in their hearts and fertility in their minds (their being grows and blossoms like a flower), but not to the angelic level of the pure or gold-hearted (a mere reflection). Silver-hearted people have the will of the Iron-hearted, much of the goodness of the Gold-hearted, and possess the emotional strength as opposed to emotional fragility like the Glass-hearted, while lacking the true untouchable purity of the higher classes. People with these hearts tend to be in the upper middle class or in the lower upper class.
The yellow large coin to the top left of the picture with the painted heart coins is the Gold Cuoro. Used almost exclusively by the upper class in this society, the Gold Cuoro’s significance is obvious, denoting someone with a heart of gold full of kindness and joy, more so than in the Silver Cuoro that is one notch below. The vaguely angelic imagery at the center of the coin, complete with “wings” and a halo on top solidifies the notion that people who use these coins are effectively luminous angels or angel-hearted, full of virtue and almost totally free of vice and sin.
Finally, the orange large coin is the Pure Cuoro, used only by the very highest echelons of my fantasy society and the rulers of the United Republic of Amorica (satire of “America”). The Pure Cuoro denotes the Pure-hearted, who are full of more goodness than even the Gold-hearted, who are so pure and so full of infinite love that they might as well be considered demigods, saints, or divine in their heroism and benevolence, representing by the star of Bethlehem-like symbol at the center and thus the sheer holiness of their being. The Pure-hearted rulers of Amorica are the first to respond to the plight of millions, the first to give their own lives for a righteous, higher cause, the first to condemn themselves for any wrongdoing whether intentional or accidental, the first to voluntarily give up their power for someone else if need be, the last to consider war as an option against rival nations, the first to uphold justice and resist all notions of imperialism or fleeting glory, and the first to bow down humbly and forgive those of the lower classes for their sins if they have learned their lessons. Poor people in this society don’t have to stay poor– they can rise up through the ranks by showing genuine goodness– pretending would only keep them in the lower castes. In fact, pretending or showing false goodness is the most serious crime in my fantasy society as it mocks the Pure-hearted and insults their integrity. Execution is illegal in this society, as is cruel imprisonment and torture, but shunning the convicted is not. The worst criminals are exiled and ignored– they are erased from existence until they can prove they have changed their ways, in which case, they are welcomed back to Amorica with open arms.