31 May, 2008

Are you happy with the country in which you live? Yes, Siam.

It's Show-and-Tell diary catch-up time again. We've just returned to Chiangmai from Adelaide (the one in Austraya) where we assisted my old mum to move into a Nursing Home [above] to ensure she can enjoy the sunset of her life to the max.

We've been through the archetypal "Family Disruption" soapie, where the script is totally predictable. An extremely exhausting process, both physically and mentally. Could never have done it properly without Marie's stalwart determination. Sell the kitchen sink, sell the piano, go through mountains of paperwork/photos/junk, re-paint, re-carpet, sell the house ....arrrgh!

It's all been a jolting object lesson in Reality: Don't Get Old. Whatever you do, DON'T. GET. OLD. Half of Adelaide comprises retired people, half comprises geriatric patients, and the third half comprises young people either employed in the Nursing Home industry or filling in unemployment forms. Ageing is the city's only growth industry. Weird feeling.

We took an overnight sanity break by car up to the nearby Yorke Peninsula, where Marie lived for 3 years as a child. The sheer desolation, unsustainable dryness, and lethargic stagnation was truly creepy. It really compounded that 'imminent death' sensation we had felt in Adelaide:

This was a derelict barley silo on Yorke Peninsula. No barley crops within coo-ee now. Just stones, a handful of sheep, and eternal saltbush. Low, colourless, and devoid of life as we know it.

So we returned to the Big City to continue our task, but happened to have cause to visit the city centre on a Saturday morning. The photo below was taken in King William Street at 11am, the supposed peak shopping time. Like, um, ...hey, where are the people??

They're all too old to drive? Can't remember where the bus stop is? Can't see to read the tram timetable? Er, oops, we're getting a tad geriatric ourselves...

Anyway, we scuttled back to civilisation here in Chiangmai and were greeted by the usual ongoing array of crazy new sights, young energetic people, concerts, festivals, crowds and congenial ambience. Am I happy living here? Yes, of course Siam.

P.S. We're happy to the extent that we've made an offer to buy a condo unit here, and the offer's just been accepted. Woo-hoo. We're not counting chickens, but watch the space (high-lighted in blue) on the 14th floor, a stretched corner unit with 3 banks of windows facing north, plus one looking at the mountain (same as our current rented apartment).

Looking towards Huaykaew Road in the distance.

Marie celebrates at Chiangmai's famous "Can Do" bar,
while the papparazzi swoops in on a scoop.

STOP PRESS: August. Now we have the orange-highlighted room as well [see below], and the rennovation nightmare is well under way. The big green balcony looks north to infinity. The green window at the right is the lounge, looking west to the mountains. The red room is the kitchen, the blue is the bedroom, and the orange is an office and TV room. Inside there's another office, a dressing room, and 2 bathrooms.

29 May, 2008

Ethiopian Orthodox relics? What ARE these ancient objects?

Ethiopian Orthodox iconography isn't exactly my forté, but I'd like to display two of these ancient tablets which have come into my possession. I hope that someone more erudite may be able to enlighten me.

Each measures about 10 x 11 cm, and about 5 mm thick at the thickest point. The one above may be an image of a Crusader or a missionary. Another bears an interesting script which reminds me of Egyptian hieroglyphics or perhaps Coptic script, while there are also representations of St George killing the Dragon, Angels, and possibly the 4 Evangelists. Each piece is not flat nor perfectly formed, but shows the irregularity of hand-carving, and is slightly convex - on both sides.

The material from which they are made? Quite heavy. Could be a stone like flint... but also sounds a lot like metal. What is the reason for the red colour persisting in the depressions? Ferrous oxides? Ink? Were these actually printing blocks for fabrics? And why are there three holes in each piece, as if they were originally bound like a book? Miraculously, a fragment of twisted leather (or gut?), slightly glossy, still lingers tantalisingly in one of the holes.

Mystery. See more photos and details here. luvian hieroglyphs cuneiform palmyrene alphabet sassanian texts proto-elamite texts greek alphabet cypriot script phoenician script cretan writing mycenaean linear b steatite archaeology religious artefacts religious icon religious icons holy pictures

21 May, 2008

World War I scrapbook discovery sheds light on women's emancipation

A post World War I scrapbook which has come into my possession may be of interest to researchers into the early days of Feminism during and after the First World War.

It is well-known that women were encouraged to step into men's jobs when servicemen were deployed abroad to fight. When the men returned in 1919, tacit pressure was put on the women to retreat to the kitchen. This unearthed scrapbook personalises and encapsulates that process in a fondly annotated photographic essay of some women propelled for the first time into the Armed Services, not to mention a greater sense of self-worth and personal independence.

To see more, click here (page opens in a new window).