CFFC: Animal Art

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic Non-Alive Animals. Of course, any representation of an animal has a real animal in mind as the artist creates it. But the rendition may be very close in appearance to the real animal, or it may be whimsical, or abstract. It all depends on the craftsman’s talent and point of view.

It was hard to choose photos for this post – so many to choose from! Everywhere I go, locally or abroad, there is animal art. Animals have been subjects for every kind of art imaginable for thousands of years…

Such as the first known painting in the world, a painting of Egyptian geese on papyrus at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo,

and the god Horus, usually represented as a hawk, at the Temple of Horus in Edfu, Egypt.

Also at the Egyptian Museum is a throne of King Tutankhamun, whose tomb was not found until 1922, with most of its grave goods intact – it hadn’t been subjected to many tomb robberies!

This elaborate throne contains many symbols and images of gods, such as twin lions on the front. One of ancient Egypt’s sacred symbols was the scarab beetle, depicted in the cartouche on the front of the arm; the hieroglyphics within the cartouche generally are names of kings, so this may have been Tuthankhamun’s. Embracing the throne of either side are the wings of the vulture, a bird considered to be a protector of kings. In this case, he represents the king-god himself, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The ancient Chinese civilization also had many animal representations, one of the most common being the guardian lion. This one is in front of a restaurant, House of Szechwan, in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Generally depicted in pairs, guardian lions stood in front of imperial palaces, tombs, temples, government buildings, and the homes of the wealthy. The concept was to show the emotion of the animal, in this case ferocity, as a symbol of protection.

Deriving from this Chinese custom, there are people today who have a pair of lions as lawn ornaments, like this one in Des Plaines. He might look more ferocious if freshly painted!

Here are another example of a Des Plaines lawn ornament, this cute little bird sitting on an orb.

There were many whimsical animals on display for sale or as decoration in the charming small town of Poulsbo, Washington, north of Tacoma.

In Evanston, Illinois, there is a little known museum called the American Toby Jug Museum, which we discovered during Chicago’s annual Open House in October. Toby Jugs are ceramic figures, usually depicting well known persons, but also animals. The history of the toby jug, or philpot, dates back to 18th century potters in Staffordshire, England and was popularized by colonists in the United States. The top of each toby jug has a spout for pouring, but nowadays, these figurines are primarily for ornamentation or collections.

After the wedding we attended near Poulsbo, Washington, we spent a day in Tacoma before returning to Seattle for our flight home. There is a beautiful Museum of Glass there, which has many objects designed by the famous Dale Chihuly, but there is also a fine collection of glass sculptures by other artists, such as this beautiful horse.

Horses are the subject of many works of art, including statues of famous heroes mounted on horses in many European cities, but I am only including two 2-dimensional renditions, one a drawing of a palomino I drew a few days ago, and another one at a short film display at the Ij (Eye) Museum in Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam, we visited the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, founded circa 1213 CE. Under the seats of the choir were unique carvings – some rather bawdy! – including this one of a pig.

Most people love animals, and there are many examples of whimsical animals to delight human sensibilities. In the gardens behind Melk Abbey in Austria are some cute creatures, mostly fantastical combinations of human and animal, but there was this turtle:

In Passau, Germany, which we had visited the previous day while on our Viking European cruise, while walking around town on our own, we came across a dachshund museum! Big and little dachshund statues were in front of it.

Who could resist being delighted by several painted cows in the town across from Mont St-Michel in France? Here is one of them, my personal favorite (I love that bright blue udder!).

Our daughter loves Hello Kitty, and for her bridal shower, Hello Kitty was the theme! I bought these as party favors.

Some animal sculptures are cute,

At Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, Illinois

but some can be a bit intimidating!…

Giant spider at Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, Iowa

and some are reminders of favorite movies, such as this groundhog in Woodstock, Illinois, where Groundhog Day was filmed.

L-APC Checks and Stripes

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week has the topic Checks or Stripes.

Mosques have striped carpets where the worshippers line up to pray. (Cairo, Egypt)
Blinds in a friend’s apartment (Des Plaines, IL)
Stripes on steps (Des Plaines)
Fences are striped. (Chicago Krisha Society)
A fence with both stripes and checks – at The Church of All Nations in Jerusalem
Bottle Tree Ranch near Victorville, California (one of the sites on Route 66)
Seats in ancient amphitheatre in Caesrea Maritima, Israel
Woven striped design on my bottle holder that I bought in Peru
Beautiful inlaid (some of them checked) designs on small tables & other items in Aswan, Egypt
Stripes and Checks in a coloring book (photo modified)

L-APC: The Alphabet

The Alphabet starts with “A” and that is the subject of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week, starting appropriately with the amazing letter A!

I have a file of letter-shaped things. I got the idea for it when I saw this cute little ladder in our neighborhood and immediately thought of the letter A!

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Austria
Austrians

My brother-in-law sings in a barbershop chorus called The Arlingtones. It is based in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Arlingtones holiday show 2019

In Cairo we visited the Museum of Islamic Art. Arabic writing is an art form in itself!

Arabic writing from the Ottoman Empire

In the spring, swans mate and lay their eggs. In early April, the female has laid 2 eggs and by the end of April, she has laid all her eggs!

Art (painting by Monet)
Arches National Park, Utah
ancient architecture (Karnak, Luxor, Egypt)

Truthful Tuesday: Hobbies & Obsessions

Truthful Tuesday

Welcome to another edition of PCGuyIV’s Truthful Tuesday! Here is the question for this week:
With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

UNIQUE?? Hmmm….I don’t think any of my hobbies are particularly unique. I like to write, draw, blog, read, garden…these are not exactly unique.

I thought of the collections I have. I do have several collections: cats (images, figurines, etc. – I always try to buy a cat sculpture when I travel), Mexican alebrijes (little figurines of animals, carved out of wood and intricately painted), creches (Nativity scenes – I have about eight of them so far, from different cultures), photo albums (I used to make them by hand, now I do it on Shutterfly – and for what? They take up room and when I die, no one will want them and they’ll get thrown away – but this year I love them because we can’t travel due to the coronavirus and it’s nice to look at the albums I worked so hard on when it’s cold and dreary – like today – I can “travel” back in time), “refrigerator” magnets (which are not on my refrigerator, they’re on my file cabinets – I buy magnets everywhere I travel), and it looks like I will soon have a collection of unique face masks!

A collection of some of my animal figurines

I decided to ask my husband, who always thinks of things I never come up with. He said, “You’ve become an ancient Egyptophile” which is true! We went to Egypt two years ago and since then I’ve developed an obsession with ancient Egypt. I made two photo albums on Shutterfly (because I had too many photos I wanted to include for only one), I have researched historical fiction about ancient Egypt and bought a lot of books from Amazon, as cheaply as possible, because most are no longer available at libraries. Libraries tend to cull books that were written over twenty years ago and not in demand any longer, unless they are classics. Apparently ancient Egypt was a fad in the 1990s, because nearly all the books I’ve gotten were written at that time, and most of the authors haven’t written anything new. (I vaguely remember my mother getting all excited about “King Tut” because items found in the tomb of Tutankhamun were in a traveling exhibit at museums around the world – perhaps that’s when it was.)

One of the thrones found in Tutankhamun’s tomb

I also subscribe to the online Ancient History Encyclopedia, where I look up things I want more background about, and I’ve even made lists of the pharaohs, women rulers in ancient Egypt, and timelines. Actually, I have recently become interested in ancient history in general, which I never studied in high school or college. The Egyptian civilization is the oldest of all of those long gone civilizations, and it lasted three thousand years, more than any other, I think. It is amazing that we have been able to learn so much about them. They left so many writings, monuments that contain writing, tombs that have been preserved for centuries. They were a proud, egocentric people, and did want to leave behind their life histories for posterity. We know quite a bit about their customs and culture, but of course there are many gaps and lots of speculation. Every so often, some archaeologist uncovers something new that sheds light on a missing piece. Tutankhamen, for example, was not an important or long-lived pharaoh. His reign started when he was 10 and he died at 19. He is so well-known to us because his was one of the very few tombs that was found intact due to its location underneath another tomb. There used to be a lot of speculation that “the boy king” was murdered, but in the 2000s, they did a DNA test on his mummy and found that he died of malaria. At least, that’s what our Egyptologist guide told us.

Statues of female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, at her mortuary temple. She ruled for 20 years, but preferred to be depicted as a man in her statuary.

I wonder if two millennia from now, what will be left over of our civilization that people in the future will be interested in? Everything nowadays is so fleeting, temporary – much of what we’ve written and done will be lost; we don’t build many monuments these days, and everything we buy is not made to last. If we don’t destroy the planet before then, perhaps someone in that far distant future will find elements of our cultures that they will try to piece together.

We have an expression when we want to say something is not a strict rule: “It’s not written in stone.” That describes our attitude today, I think! The ancients, however, DID write in stone! We have sent samples of our culture out into space for extraterrestrials to find. But who will find us? And will they want to?

I realize I’ve strayed far from the question, but it’s more of a justification for this obsessive “hobby.” I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s definitely Covid-19 driven! Lots of time to read and immerse myself in the lives of people – real and fictional – who lived along the Nile River several millennia ago! It makes the time we are stuck at home a lot more interesting.

FFPC: Everybody’s Going Somewhere

Family out enjoying the nice day on their boat, on the Baltic Sea.
Getting on a small airplane for the journey from Serengeti National Park to Arusha, Tanzania
Cattle on trucks, Daraw, Egypt
In Daraw, all the traffic was stopped for a very long time at a railroad crossing.
“People movers” at Charles deGaulle Airport, Paris, France
Rush hour on Champs Elysee, Paris
Bus in Cairo traffic, Egypt (I was trying to take a photo of the building across the street but the bus got in my way!)

Marching band on the move, Vienna, Austria
Bicyclists waiting for light to change, Vienna
Canal tour boats in Amsterdam, Holland
Mother & son out for a bike ride, Regensburg, Germany
Wake of cruise ship at sunset on the Baltic Sea

Sandy’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: In Transit

CB&WPC: Long

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is things that are long.

Long necks
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Long necks and long legs!SONY DSC
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Long stem (bell stand) and long trunk (palm tree)
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Man-made long-ness:
The Sphinx’s long front legs
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Long stairway
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Tall minarets
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Long (and tall) bridge
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Tall obelisks (they were long before they were hoisted into position 😉 )
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Long-necked tower
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Very long building! (and this is only a partial view!)
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Thursday Doors: Cairo’s Islamic Art Museum

I am finding photos in my archives that I have never blogged about before, some suitable for Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge. We were on our own our last day in Cairo, because we were going to Israel to join up with a tour group there. On recommendation, we decided to go to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

In 2014, there was a car bombing intended for the Cairo police headquarters across the street, which severely damaged the building’s façade, and destroyed over 20% of the museum’s artifacts. Personal photo of Gerard Ducher; link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en .

The MIA in Cairo is considered one of the greatest in the world. It has an extensive collection of rare wood and plaster artifacts, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textile objects of all periods, from all over the Islamic world and representing different periods in Islamic history ranging from the 7th to the 19th centuries CE. The collection occupies 25 halls in 2 wings, one wing organized by period and the other organized by category. The MIA displays about 4,500 objects, but their total collection equals approximately 100,000 artifacts.

These photos represent only a small fraction of the items on display, but they were ones I found especially beautiful or significant. And, of course, featuring doors!

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Ceramic tiles from Iznik, decorated with floral ornamentation. Turkey – Ottoman Empire, 16th century CE.

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Ceramic tiles with under glazed decorations based on inscriptions, human, animal and floral motifs. Iran, 11th-15th century CE.

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Two table chests, made of wood inlaid with ivory. Turkey – Ottoman Empire, 18th century CE.

 

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Ceramic Mihrab with carved under glazed decoration. Iran, 14th century CE.

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Cabinet of painted wood, decorated with ceramic tiles. Egypt – Ottoman Empire, 17th century CE.

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This and photo below: Stucco façade in shape of a Mihrab. Egypt – Mamluk, 15th century CE. Marble portico. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th-15th century CE. Marble fountain. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th-15th century CE.

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Wooden door, assembled “tongue and groove,” inland with ivory, ebony, and bone. Egypt – Ottoman, 16th century CE.

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Marble door, decorated with floral and geometric designs; gift from the king of Afghanistan, 18th century CE.

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Wooden pulpit, (Minbar), brought from the mosque Tafar al-Higazlya, 1348-1360 CE. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th century CE.

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Wood plated door with copper revetment, bears the name of prince Shams al Din Sunqur al-Tawil-al-Mansuri. Egypt – Mamluk, 14th century CE.

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Ceramic tiles, painted under glaze. Egypt or Syria, Mamluk, 15th century CE.

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Information obtained from:
Wikipedia: Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo

 

 

 

 

L-APC: Organized Chaos in Egypt

When I saw that Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #88 had the theme of chaosI immediately thought of Egypt…

Egyptian roads are chaotic. Jokingly – but not really – locals will describe to you the beliefs of Egyptian drivers:  Speed limits are just suggestions. Lines on the roads are merely for decoration (really, no one pays much attention to them – drivers make a 3-lane road into a 5- or 6-lane road!). Don’t use your headlights at night because you will inconvenience drivers coming in the other direction.

Cairo is a very large, chaotic and polluted city.

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This is two-way traffic! If there is a traffic jam, motorcyclists will weave in and out between the lanes of cars.

 

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Roof level chaos

While on our Nile River cruise, we stopped in the town of Daraw to visit their animal market. Getting there took a lot longer than it should have because we were stopped by a very slow train. Tuk-tuk, auto, and foot traffic piled up behind us.
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Finally, we made it to the market, where there was plenty of chaos! The market teemed with hundreds of animals and the smell was very…well, exactly what you would expect!
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Perhaps it was really organized chaos – sheep and goats were in one area, camels in another, etc. Somewhere in the back where those green tents are, animals were being butchered on the spot!
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CFFC: Upward

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is about pointing your camera upward!

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Moose antlers chandelier at Claim Jumper Restaurant in Hoffman Estates, IL

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Looking up at the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

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Flying gull, Sea of Galilee, Israel

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Looking up toward the glass ceiling of a greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Gardens’ orchid show

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Solar eclipse, August 2017 at Chicago Botanic Gardens. I took this photo by pointing my cellphone upwards, covering the screen with the filter from my eclipse glasses.

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Dome at Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

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Looking up from under the center of the Eiffel Tower, Paris

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Domed window panels, O’Hare Airport, Chicago

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Looking up over a doorway in Wurzburg, Germany

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Regensburg Cathedral spire, Germany

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Statue of King Ludwig I, Regensburg, Germany

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Ornamentation on top of a building in Passau, Germany

Lens-Artists #82: Capitals & Capitols

The Lens–Artists photo challenge this week has a guest host, Viveka, whose topic is capitals.

On our road trips around the United States, we try to visit as many capitals as possible – not just the capital cities, but also their capitol buildings. I have a series of posts featuring some of the capitols we’ve visited lately. (Check them out in my archives – that’s why I’ve put the dates in below.) These are the ones that we have seen in the last 3 years.

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (May 2017)
Capitol exterior and its dome from inside

Some of the memorials and statues on the capitol grounds

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA (May 2017)
Capitol building exterior (no, it doesn’t have a dome) and view of grounds from the top floor viewing area

Some famous North Dakotans

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (May 2018)
Capitol exterior (the dome is at the top of this multistoried building), floor of the rotunda, visiting school group

Artwork viewed from the rotunda, including a colorful door

DENVER, COLORADO (June 2018)
Exterior and view from the dome

Stained glass portraits

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (June 2018)
Exterior and staircase

Slideshow of some of the sights inside

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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO (June 2018)
The capitol building in Santa Fe is shaped like the Zuni sun symbol, which is also depicted in the rotunda and on the state flag. The first two photos are a partial view of the exterior and one of the curved hallways.

The New Mexico capitol building has a lot of artwork by New Mexican artists. The slideshow shows some of them.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA (June 2018)
The Oklahoma state capitol has the distinction of being the only capitol in the U.S. that has an oil rig visible at every cardinal direction. Two of these can be seen below. The middle photo is the dome from the rotunda, and the photo at right is a commemoration of Oklahoma’s native tribes, each of which has its own flag.

Sculpture, artwork, and artifacts in the capitol

DES MOINES, IOWA (Sept. 2018)
Capitol exterior and chamber of the legislature

Iowa’s capitol has colorful designs and patterns on its floors.

On the capitol grounds, there is a Holocaust memorial.

Interestingly, this post does not contain photos from my home state capital (Springfield, IL – I was last there in 2012) nor the capital of the state north of here, the state where I was born and I grew up (Madison, WI – I can’t remember the last time I visited the capitol).

I have also visited several foreign capitals in recent years (2017-2019), but not their government buildings – can you figure out which cities these are? One is a provincial capital, the others are national capitals.