Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one pagan and the other Judeo-Christian. Both pagans and Christians have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the spring equinox for millennia. A majority of religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier pagan celebrations. The name “Easter” itself originated with the names of an ancient goddess. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE), a Christian scholar, first mentioned in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. The "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility was also known as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eastra and others.
This week’s Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade features artisan design that feature spirals, circles and/or arcs. All three symbols were used as early as 38.000 BC in Europe, Africa, Australia and South America when ancient man began to carve into stone or paint cave walls in protected areas. It is possible that earlier hunter/gatherer peoples might have decorated their bodies and clothes or marked trees or features in the landscape but, if they did, evidence of that art has not survived.
Since purple is a fairly rare color in nature, an almost magical aura has been associated to it throughout human history. The first historical record of a purple dye, called Tyrian purple, indicates that it began to be manufactured in the Phoenician city of Tyre in the eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BCE. The dye was extracted from the glands of several types of shellfish, but especially the Murex brandaris. The process to extract the dye took about three days. Thousands of putrefied, crushed shellfish were left to bake in the sun. Salt was then added and the mash of glands were boiled down. (Can you imagine the overwhelming stench of the process!!!). It took about 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye, barely enough to dye a single garment the size of a Roman toga. In 301 A.D. during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, one pound of purple dye cost 150,000 denarii or around three pounds of gold. This is the main reason the purple color was reserved for emperors or individuals with titles of royal authority.
A new year is almost on us. Which leaves me to wonder: what the heck happened to 2016? I don't know about you, but it sure zoomed by quickly! Despite its swift passing, 2016 also witnessed exquisite handmade creations from a host of artist friends. To help ring in 2017, I decided to share some of those favorites - many are one of a kind pieces - that would be perfect to wear to any New Year's Eve party. Enjoy!
How many are with me in thinking that Christmas gets earlier each and every year? It has a tendency to sneak up on a person until, like today, it suddenly starts hollering at you: CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE! Yikes!!! So I decided it was time to start sharing handmade items from artist friends that will make perfect Christmas gifts. And to make it even better, many of these beauties can be worn way past the holiday season, many even all year long.
The other day, as I was pondering the theme of this week’s “Wonderful Handmade Wednesday" blog post, I ran across a very colorful quote from Roy Bean talking about autumn in the desert: “And Fall, with her yeller harvest moon and the hills growin' brown and golden under a sinkin' sun.” Aha, I thought! The handmade theme of earthy yellers, browns and goldens was then set in my mind.
In the Urban Dictionary, I found this fascinating description of the word "funky" as it comes to style:
"Funky can be a mixture of thrift store and name brand, lace and leather, a simple gold bracelet and a huge plastic pink one, matching or unmatching, a ton of jewelry or none, classy and trashy. Being funky is about taking risks, and not being afraid to get a stare or two from people who wish they could be as funky as you . . . funky is never about boring."
Easter Sunday is almost on us, coming fairly early this year. In celebration of Easter, I decided to base this Wonderful Handmade Wednesday post on the glorious colors of Easter eggs, since there will be millions dyed, hunted and rolled come Sunday. There is an old Latin proverb: "Omne vivum ex ovo," which means "all life comes from an egg." Many ancient cultures the world over believed the whole universe was created from an egg, the egg an important symbol of life. Before Christianity, eggs were revered by pagans as a symbols of fertility and resurrection and played important roles in their return-of-spring celebrations. Christians used Easter eggs (which started to be painted around the 13th century) to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and his resurrection. However, many scholars point out that ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox, a tradition that continues to this day and was picked up by cultures and religions around the world.
I feel I have been walking on a cloud ever since my husband and I snagged tickets to see Justin Hayward in Austin, Texas, in June. For those who aren’t familiar with his name, you will certainly recognize his voice from Moody Blues songs such as "Nights in White Satin", "Your Wildest Dreams", "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Question". I have been a Moody Blues fan since around 1970 and have had the privilege to see them many, many times from when the original five toured to the scaled down version of just three Moodies when they passed through here two years ago. But this will be the first time seeing Justin solo. Shhhh . . . this is just between you and me and please don't tell my husband (although I'm pretty sure he knows) I have been madly in love with Justin since I first saw the Moody Blues in concert those many years ago.
Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy; photo by Gerald Rhemann on December 13, 2013