Thursday, November 26, 2020

Italy | Venice | Palazzo Mocenigo

Wandered by the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, just behind the Church of San Stae on the Grand Canal. The museum also hosts the Study Centre of the History of Textiles, Costumes and Perfume. The museum and study center is housed in the former palazzo of the Mocenigos, one of the most prominent families in Venice for a period of several hundred years. Seven Mocenigos became doges: Tommaso (1414–23), Pietro (1474–76), Giovanni (1478–85), Alvise I (1570–77, Alvise II (1700-1709), Alvise III (1722-32), and Alvise IV (1763). There were two branches of family, one located here at San Stae and another further on down the Grand Canal at San Samuele. A member of the San Samuele branch, Giovanni Mocenigo, was notorious for denouncing irrepressibly hard-core pantheist and unapologetic Hermetic occultist Giordano Bruno to the Catholic Inquisition, which resulted in Bruno being burned at the stake in Paris on Ash Wednesday, February 17th, 1600.
Church of San Stae
Entrance to Palazzo Mocenigo
Costume Exhibit (click on photos for enlargements)
Costume Exhibit
Costume Exhibit

Costume Exhibit
Costume Exhibit
Book of perfume recipes plus raw ingredients for making Perfume. I was of course in Seventh Heaven here. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Turkey | Mesopotamia | Mardin

Wandered out to Mardin, in southeast Turkey, 673 miles east-southeast of Istanbul, on the very border between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The Syrian border is about 14 miles to the south, but there are few visible signs of the war in Syria in this part of Turkey. Mardin is famously located on the side of a 3700-foot high hill overlooking the great plain of Mesopotamia. The southern edge of the town is at about 3000 feet, but at the Syrian border the elevation has already dropped to 1600 feet, almost 2000 feet lower than the town. 
 The hillside city of Mardin (click on photos for enlargements).
 The great plain of Mesopotamia viewed from Mardin—home of Suberians, Hurrians, Elamites, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, and Byzantines—and that’s just up the fourteenth century!—and beloved by current day Neo-Mesopotamians.
 The town of Mardin
 Most of the lanes running up and down the town are staircases. 
 The narrow streets of Mardin. 
The 170-foot high minaret of the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii), built by order of Qutb ad-din Ilghazi in the 12th century. As you probably know, Qutb ad-din Ilghazi was the ruler of the Artuqid Turks, who in the 12th century established an emirate more-or-less independent of the Saljuq Sultanate of Rum. The mosque originally had two minarets, but one was reportedly destroyed by Amir Timur (Tamurlane). 
Courtyard of the Great Mosque
Mardin is the jumping-off point for the region known as Tur Abdin, “Mountain of the Servants of God” or “Mountains of the Hermits”, which rumor has it may contain a Portal to Shambhala. More on Tur Abdin to follow . . . 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Greece | Crete | Chania

From Venice I flew to Athens and then wandered on down to the island of Crete. As most of you know, Crete was once part of the Byzantine Empire. Following the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Crusaders and Venetians led by Enrico Dandolo the island became part of La Serenissima, the Serene Republic of Venice. It remained part of La Serenissima until 1669 when the Ottoman Turks took over. In 1908, when the Ottoman Empire was on the ropes, indigenous Cretans decided to became part of Greece. The city of Chania on the island has an Old Town dating largely to the Venetian Era and I was of course eager to see it. (Chania, as I was informed several times during my first hour in town, is pronounced xan-Ye.
Crete, the island at the bottom of the map, is 175 miles south of Athens. Chania is at the northwest corner of the island (map courtesy of nationsonline).
Port of Chania (click on image for enlargements)
Downtown Chania
My hotel in the old Venetian quarter of town. The original building was built by Venetians in the 13th century. 
The day I arrived it was overcast and the horizon was not visible. The second morning the skies cleared and I was somewhat startled to see formidable snow-covered mountains to the south of the city. For a moment I thought I was in Anchorage, Alaska, and was staring at the Chugach Mountains. The temperature at sea level was in the high seventies and low eighties. 
Typical street in the old Venetian Quarter
Part of the formidable Venetian walls which once surrounded the city
Surfs up! Lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour.
The promenade along the harbour

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Uzbekistan | Bukhara | Jahongir Ashurov | Book

Wandered by the old caravanaserai fronting on  Lyab-i Haus, the main public square in Bukhara. I was looking for Jahongir Ashurov, a miniaturist from whom I had bought  Some Miniatures a few years ago (see More Miniatures by Jahongir Ashurov).
Entrance to the old caravanserai (click on photos for enlargements)
Courtyard of old caravanserai. It now hosts the workshops of various artists and craftsmen, including miniaturists, silk weavers, etc. It was very early in the morning and the courtyyard was still dusted with fresh now. Jahongir was not yet there however.
Another view of the caravanserai. I came back at noon when things had warmed up a bit and found Jahongir in his shop. 
Of note among his new works is a complete book containing a poem by Khoja Akhmet Yassavi (1093 a.d.–1166 a.d.) As you probably know, Yassavi is the earliest known Turkic poet who wrote poetry in a Turkic language, and he founded one of the first, if not the first, Sufi orders among Turkish speaking peoples. In his early life he lived in Bukhara and studied under Abu Yaqub Yusuf al-Hamadani (c.1048-1141), who was also the teacher of Ghujdawani (d.1179)

Every element of this book is made by Jahongir, including the miniatures used as illustrations, the hand-written text (which is Uzbek language written in Arabic script, the marbled end papers, and the binding. To Jahongir’s knowledge, he and his brother, who has done a similar work, are the only people in Bukhara and possibly Uzbekistan who are making books like this. Miniatures and bookmaking are not his only skills. He recently returned from a city near Moscow in Russia where he carved various stone monuments.
The book was bound by by Jahongir with silk board covers and a leather spine
Marbled endpapers handmade by Jahongir
Facing pages of illustration and text
Facing pages of illustration and text
Detail of page above
Two facing pages of text
Facing pages of illustration and text
Two facing pages of text
Facing pages of illustration and text
Facing pages of illustration and text
These are just some sample pages. The entire book is for sale for a mere $4000. I am experiencing a temporary cash flow problem or I would buy it myself. Those of you whose portfolios are bulging at the seams from the recent record-high DJIA might do well to diversity into one-of-kind books like this. You can contact Jahongir at jahongir_a@yahoo.com. But please, if you do buy the book, give it a good home. 
Jahongir Ashurov