Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Inspiration Gondar

View the rest of the line at Zazzle
(By Liz) I've been meaning to designed a line of stationary inspired by the very stylized aesthetic of the religious mural paintings of Debre Birhan Selassie in Gondar. Finally, I've gotten it off the "to-do" list and into the "done" one!

>>See the new line here on Zazzle.

We were told at the National Museum of Ethiopa in Addis Ababa that the Ethiopian style emerged out of religious illuminated manuscripts that were influenced by early Italian clergy. Can you see it?
Also, we were told that if the characters depicted have two eyes they are good, while if they're shown in profile with just one eye, they're evil. Bet you'll be looking twice now too!

While researching photos I came across this blog for an adventurous couple the Goodboons who've caravanned across East Africa in a Scarlet Toyota...


Ethiopian Incense - Frankincense and/or Myrrh?

by Liz

The smells were such a profound part of our experience in Ethiopia; the burning eucalyptus, the burning trash piles, the burning incense, the roasting coffee, the berbere. I brought back some incense and some berbere. It was a good start but I wish I'd thought it through a bit more. 

For one, I had nothing to burn this resin incense in. I also had no charcoal. Now, I'm trying to put it all together with an exhaustive internet search taking up my precious few hours of baby nap time. The goal - to make a presentation on Ethiopia to a local group here in town. I have music, I have berbere, I have art and crafts and books... the incense is a bit harder task.

From what I've found (and I may be wrong)... Frankincense is the primary incense used. Here is what one source said:

click herefor Ethiopian Frankincense @ the Hermitage

  • Frankincense is a sap or a gum of a tree and plays a big part in Ethiopian life. It is burned to clean the spirit in one’s house and to have tranquility and calmness. It is often used during meditation and prayer. 
  • Frankincense can also be used as a breath freshener. Chewing Frankincense cleans one’s teeth and gums.
  • It is said that Frankincense was offered to Jesus Christ when he was born since the stable in which he was born was unclean. 
  • Ethiopian’s also use Frankincense during cold and flu season. It is often burned to relieve cold and flu symptoms such as runny noises.

It requires charcoal and some sort of charcoal resistant burner. I remember having the opportunity to buy ceramic ones in Addis. Stupidly I did not. Its not an easy task finding either an attractive one or an Ethiopian one now that I'm back in the States. Add that to my wishlist with the Ethiopian Nativity set. I guess I'll just have to go back!

There are lots of places to buy incense; many of them cater to stoners and witches... I was looking for something a bit more authentic... so it came down between the Absynian Market which didn't look like it had been updated recently and the Greek Orthodox Holycross Hermitage of West Virginia. The father responded very promptly to my web inquiry so... the monks win.

Its so authentic it makes me feel just a little... unorthdox! Well, wouldn't be the first time!

I'll let you know how it goes!