Monday, September 17, 2012

Muslim Rage! A Collection of Photos from the Muslim World

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

~Jawaharal Nehru

Scary Muslim Girl! Not wait-that’s me! In Oman.
So the American Election is coming up and some timely idiot decided to translate a video putting down the Muslim faith and the red necks of the Muslim world are up in arms about it, attacking embassies and all that. I’ve been seeing photos of burning flags and even Obama effigies.  I’d like to ask the Muslim red necks exactly why are they burning effigies of the most Muslim-friendly president to ever sit in the Oval Office, but I’m not sure I’d get a very clear answer out of them. Obviously they haven’t really thought that one through.

Anyway, Newsweek put out some inflammatory photos in an article called “Muslim Rage” and my friend Anne posted a counterpoint article on Facebook, which I found quote enjoyable. (Link at the bottom of the paragraph) So I posted one to my friend Anne, of a Muslim Grannie who was playing the lute in the square yesterday, and made a joke about how raging she is. Since the photo was shared around by a few people, I decided for fun, to post some of my most “raging” Muslim photos here for your fear mongering or enjoyment, whatever you might choose.

As many people know, I now live in Turkey, but have also lived in the UAE and travelled through Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Oman. Muslims are not scary and idiots are idiots all over the world.


Link to article here. 
Me, My Egyptian Friend Sayed and a Japanese Tourist in Dahab Egypt.
Sayed took my sister and I far out to the edge of the Red Sea at night, far from the lights, to see the most amazing light fish. 

Muslim Mom snapping a photo of her children with Filipino Nanny in tow on the floor of the Dubai Mall.  The Mom and Nanny seemed like they were friends and laughed together over the children. 

I’ll rage after I wake up from my Nap. Sanliurfa, Turkey.
Little Muslim Girls in Sanliurfa taking full advantage of their run of the mosque
while the boys studied Koran outside. 

Shoe fixers, Gaziantep. 

Raging baker and furious customer, Mardin, Turkey. 

Muslim Brotherhood. Gaziantep, Turkey.

This little shoe shine boy caught me taking a picture through the window. Was he pointing or flipping the bird? Ahh, pointing, we’d already snapped pics and become old friends by this point. 

Men hanging around the mosque in Diyarakir. Plotting or gossiping, you decide. 

Okay, I have no caption for this one.
Diyarbakir, guys hanging out with their pigeons in the barbershop. (???)

Scary Turkish peach sellers! Hasankeyf, Turkey. 

Okay, not a Scary Muslim at all, But my sister Rene, resting in the river in Hasankeyf on a hot day, with an entire Muslim family who decided to join her. 

This little Kurdish lady is one of the last cave dwellers in Hasankeyf, and invited us up to check out her place. She practically did a summersault when Rene said a few kurdish words she learned off a friend. 

Are you scared? You should be! They are the scary Muslim future. Posers in Gaziantep, Turkey.

This lady was so frightening she invited us into her house, fed us tea and fruits and cookies, invited the neighbours to meet us, showed us all of her photo albums and didn’t let us leave without a fresh peach each. Gaziantep, Turkey. 

Muslim boys resting after the Imam told them to stop playing soccer in the courtyard of the mosque as the ball was bouncing off heritage architecture. 

Friday Prayers in the Grand Bazaar. I love how the ladies on the left couldn’t be bothered to move. Istanbul, Turkey.

If anyone has a right to be scared, it’s this little boy, celebrating his circumcision scheduled to happen the next day. Istanbul, Turkey.

Mehdi, the Iranian I met on the plane who has invited me to come visit him in Tehran anytime.  He told me to take this picture and tell everyone I sat next to Bin Laden on the plane to Istanbul. 

Usually when you see a man on the floor encircled by a bunch of Muslim men, you’d think something bad was going on. But it’s only bad dancing happening here. Istanbul, Turkey. 

Really Frightening. Really. Istanbul, Turkey.

Scary Pakistani, Jordanian and a  Lebanese man In Abu Dhabi, UAE.  Why exactly do they have so much soda and none of it is Coke? Suspicious. 

Doner Kebap served up with a side of sensationalism. Istanbul, Turkey. 

The lute playing Muslim grannie who was the inspiration for this blog post. 

Really, would you trust these guys? Abu Dhabi Bus Station, UAE.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Symbolism of rugs in Anatolia: My Soumak and an old friend, Kathy Hamilton

**First blog from Istanbul! I’m finally back!**

One day a Yürük tribal chief saw a kilim rug lying on the ground by a tent. Looking at it brought anguish to his heart, so he called on his men to find the father of the girl who had woven that kilim rug. 


When the father of the girl was brought to the tent the chief asked:

"You have a daughter, don't you?"

"Yes, I do" replied the father.

"As I understand it," continued the chief, "you want to marry the girl to someone she doesn't want. She has set her heart on another.

At first the father was stunned - how could the chief know of this - but then his tongue was loosened:

"That's true, I'm a poor man and the man who wants to marry my daughter is rich, so I promised to give him her hand in marriage. My girl, though, lost her heart to a poor young man…but how could you know of this?"

The chief pointed to the kilim rug on the ground saying:

"Didn't your daughter weave this kilim rug?” 

"Yes, she did" said the father, to which the chief replied:

"So I knew about it from the language spoken by this kilim rug…I'll give you a horse, a camel, go and marry the girl to the one she loves. Oh! and tell her this…she wove it well, but she should put a bit less of a green accent by the red…as it is, I was almost misled."

Murat! Friends since my first trip to Turkey in 2001.
My my, the past two years of living in Canada have gone quickly. For those of you who have followed my blog, you’ll remember a few years ago I took a textiles class at UBC. I had to do a presentation on something to do with textiles and so I chose to do my presentation based on a soumak I bought a few years back in Turkey.

I have a friend who sells carpets in Sultanahmet, Murat at Artemis Rug Store on Akbiyik Cadesi/ Adliye Sokak. We’ve been friends for years, and once I stopped in to say hello, and saw this soumak hanging on the wall and fought with Murat to sell it to me. He didn’t really want to part with it, knowing he’d probably get a higher price from a richer tourist, but I insisted, and I still love it to this day. (In fact, it has been on my floor in the UAE, Istanbul in 2009, Throughout many bedroom floors in Canada, and now it has come home to Turkey and it's lying five feet away from me as I type this!)  I now avoid looking at walls in Murat’s shop, though! He also says he won’t sell me anymore rugs and I ought to take my business elsewhere, but the truth is, Murat has amazing carpets and I’m always guaranteed an honest price and honesty about the quality of the piece and where it comes from. (My sister and I once locked him out of his own shop and went through his merchandise- which he thought extremely funny, but that’s another story!) 
Kilim weave

Okay, what is the difference between a carpet, a kilim and a soumak? Rug 101 coming up.

A carpet is the kind of carpet you know of- it’s thick and has a pile. Carpet weavers tie each piece on and cut it according to a pattern they usually have taped to the side of the loom. 

Soumak Weave

A kilim is a flat woven carpet, and can be reversed. It takes more skill and some critical thinking skills in order to work the pattern and still keep the structural integrity of the rug. because the colours don’t overlap there is often a small gap between the colours, so the kilim needs to be planned out in such a way that these slits aren’t too long.

Mine in particular is a soumak, which is very close to a kilim, except it’s embroidered as well as woven, and can’t be reversed, and has a different kind of weave.
Kathy Hamilton and her son. 
Lucky for me, I have lots of interesting and intelligent friends in Istanbul. Meet Kathy Hamilton from Texas and her son. This picture is a few years old, taken on the day that Kathy, her son, my sister and I stalked Obama on his trek between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Kathy is the shopping tourists dream, as she has researched and organized tours of the Grand Bazaar to help people navigate the crazy number of stores there: Not only can she tell you the history of the Bazaar, she knows where to get the best stuff for the best price. She also knows a lot about kilims, so I showed her my kilim and she helped me deconstruct the story over a cup of tea one day. 

My soumak and what it means! 
(As deconstructed by Kathy and me)
(Mini disclaimer: Neither of us claim to be experts!)

Animals and Ram’s Horns inside a burr design. 
Animals, most likely livestock that needs protecting. the two little squiggly S’s are snakes, a symbol of renewal and protection. The two blueish symbols in the middle are ram’s horns, symbolising fertility in males, heroism, power and masculinity. In its earliest forms, ram’s horns were curvilinear and used in felting in Central Asia. They only became geometric because of the constraints weavers have of making curvilinear forms.

The oatmeal-coloured  shape you see is a burr (burdock) shape.  Burrs often get stuck on humans and animals that live very close to nature, and it is believed that the burr can ward off the evil eye.  It can also mean “full of flowers” and so therefore it’s often depicted on the side of flour bags in Anatolia. By putting her livestock and ‘ram’ in the burr pattern, the weaver is protecting her family and security. 

Snakes, dowry chests and a broken evil eye/cross. 
Working from the outside line, the linked S pattern is the snake again, encircling the entire carpet, thus protecting everything inside its design. 

The snake is a protection of life symbol. As it molts its skin every year, it has become the symbol for immortality and reincarnation and eternity. The snake is also the caretaker of the tree of life, which also symbolizes eternity. A black snake represents happiness and fertility, because of its real life form resembling a phallus. 

Next up are trousseau chest symbols, the dowry chests of young Anatolian girls, with a cross inside. this isn’t a coptic cross though, this one splits the evil eye in four, sending its ill-will in four different directions, warding of anyone who might be jealous of this bountiful dowry chest! The evil eye is a widespread popular motif and is still widely used to ward off jealous stared and curses. It is believed that some people have the power to inflict harm, injury, misfortune or even death with a glance, and the best way to fight off this evil eye, is with another human eye. The evil eye is a stylized representation of a human eye and can also be represented as a diamond split into four.

Coffee cups, oil lamps and water jugs and animals inside a burr.
Another burr pattern with oil lamps, water jars and coffee cups among the plentiful animals. I admit, the jars and coffee cups are what initially attracted me to this soumak, and I have yet to see another one like it. I thought perhaps these were a literal depiction of things you might find on an actual soumak being used out in the field.

 But now I know vessels hold water, a precious commodity for a nomadic tribe, moving their animals around looking for water and suitable grounds. A vessel is also a symbol of fertility as pregnant women are also vessels carrying new life. The ewer, or long spouted vessel found on the top and bottom is also a symbol for pregnancy and cleanliness. Since it is one of the household objects used daily, it is often seen on Turkish prayer rugs and kilims.  It reminds the faithful to perform ablutions before prayer.  It also represents washing after sexual intercourse, so it’s also a symbol for the wish to have children. The weaver is most likely hoping for an abundance of water and possibly an abundance of children in her future as well! The oil lamps could represent modern convenience or even Islam, as lamps are often included in prayer rugs to symbolise “the light."

First quirk: half a star.
It’s interesting to note that there are always “mistakes’ or quirks in a handwoven kilm/rug/soumak. There are two reasons for this: The first one being that only God can make perfect things. The second is that it proves the carpet wasn’t made by a machine. 

There are a few quirks on my soumak- one being half a woven star, the yellow and white shape. This simply symbolises happiness and fertility. If there are many stars on a kilim is means the weaver wishes to express her utmost happiness in life. Taking into consideration the mother goddess statues where the star symbolises the womb, it could be said that the motif is related to fertility. Due to technical weaving difficulties, the star motifs have an even number of points.

Second quirk: Half a lamp.

Besides there being a few animals with three legs, it looks like the yellow oil lamp also got cut off. 

Third quirk: A weird thingy. Someone enlighten me!

I’m not really sure what that little shape next to the oil lamp is. My guess is that it’s a flower bud maybe? or an earring? Earrings are given to bride during the marriage ceremony and symbolises marriage and the desire to get married. It shows weaver's expectations for marriage. It’s a possibility that this is an earring, as it would be fitting with the theme. Though it kind of reminds me of a curling rock from Canada! 

Favourite quirk: Escaping bird!

And my favourite little quirk of all, this little bird trying to make it’s escape at the very top of the soumak. It’s almost like he’s saying, I’ve made it past the first ring of snakes, now it I could only get past this next ring I’ll be freeee! 

Kathy’s take: 

My take on it is that she is young, but very close to marriageable age. She is hoping for a marriage with a good man who will treat her well. She also hopes for half a ton of kids. I think that in addition to showing the material things she dreams of - a home, all the necessities for a home, livestock, etc., I think that she is also giving a picture of her world. I think that the fox-ish animal and some of the birds could represent the wildlife that is around her home. If she is living in a tiny village, or a part of a nomadic unit, she is aware of the fact that there are those around her who are prone to jealousy of someone who is happier, has a nicer husband or more children, and so she is trying to protect herself, and her dreams, from the evil eye.

Or, she’s wishing Starbucks would come to her village!

You can see a short little video of Kathy here and contact her on her website @ Istanbul Personal Shopper

You can find Marat and Artemis Rug Store at their website,  here.

Off to meet a new friend under Galata Bridge! It’s nice to be back!  


Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Hill with a Bike on it Stands a little Taller: Cycling in the City!

My friend Lorens' awesome bamboo bike! The "fiberglass" joints are made from hemp and soy epoxy.
Apparently you can find online instructions to make your own, but Loren's friend made Loren's.

Now that spring is almost on it's way out and summer is on it's way, I manage to get out on my bike when it's not raining. I love cycling. Not like, I have to wear everything spandex and go shooting through the city cycling, But a nice ride along streets I haven't been on before, maybe just a hair of my usual route lets me explore all sorts of things I'd miss if I were walking or on the bus. 

Take all my yarn bombing spottings. Most of them have been in the company of my bicycle. But I have also found a few other interesting things in the city because of cycling. 

Roundabout Gardens: 
These are community gardens found in the roundabouts in Kitsilano. If I were living in a cramped little apartment in Kits and staying long term, I might take one of these over. How fun! These guys invite you to take what you need, but they never seem to run out of anything.

And now that I ride my bike up the big hill to UBC, I was quite pleased to encounter this other form of nice graffitti- Stenciled right in the bike path lane right at the top of the hill it says, "A hill with a bike on it stands a little taller." The kind of graffiti I can get behind. 

Yay Bikes!

Friday, May 25, 2012

April Showers Bring May Flowers: Yarn bomb spotted!

I hate moving. Haaaate!

Since moving back to Canada, I have moved nine times. Seriously! Whoever said I should move back to Canada for some stability in my life, should think again! I've never moved this much! Ever! 

However, all of this moving had an upside this last time around. While I was shuffling my things between my new and old house at the beginning of May, I discovered probably the most ambitious yarn bomb I've seen so far. 

This one is on Fourth Avenue West near Collingwood St, (I think, I cant' remember exactly). I've passed it so may times on the bus, trying to snap a picture out the window, but I had never been successful. Luckily one day I decided to ride my bike a different way to my yoga class and I happened across it again. So bike thrown down on the sidewalk much like I did as a kid, I snapped a few pictures with my phone before I continued on my way. 

A few new flowers for May!
 (Now if only the rain would stop, Vancouver!!!) 

The long view of the fence.

The flowers would have been knitted into shape then "sewn" onto the chain-link fence. 

Notice the cloud! I wish they had filled in the cloud somehow. 

Okay, the cloud could have been a lot better, but I won't complain! 

If I had time and some knitting skills I'd go add bees and butterflies. 

Yarn grass would be pretty cool too. 

I love how these flowers blend into the field behind it. They don't look out of place at all!

The long view from the other side. 

Pink Poinsettia-looking fleur. 

Thank you for the inspiration, Flower Yarn-Bomber!

You have also made my dreary moving duties a little bit brighter with your unsanctioned street installation!

Ps. If you are in the Victoria (British Columbia) Area and would like to donate some yarn to a yarn bomb tree Installation, Go to:
This link!