The Imperial Easter Eggs

Peter Carl Faberge` It’s almost one a.m., a chilly night before Easter. The year is 1885. In his workshop on Bolshya   Morskaya a fashionable street in St. Petersburg, Peter Carl Faberge` is giving the final finishing touches to a beautiful golden Easter egg. This is no ordinary Easter egg and Faberge` is no ordinary jeweller. He's recently been titled ‘Master Jeweller’ and been awarded a gold medal by Tsar Alexander III. Faberge` had been commissioned by him to make an Easter egg for his wife Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.   The Tsar wanted to present the egg to his wife on Easter and also celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. The Hen Egg The next morning the Tsar presents the egg to his wife. The egg which came to be known as the ‘Hen Egg’, is crafted from a foundation of gold. Its opaque white enamelled ‘shell’ opens to reveal a matt yellow yolk made entirely of gold. The yolk in turn opens to reveal a golden hen that’s resting on a bed o

Celebrating Imperfection- Kintsugi

The year is 1460, little Akira sits on a mat in his father’s workshop in Kyoto. It’s way past his bedtime, but he just can’t tear himself away from the beautiful ceramic bowl that has caught his attention the whole evening. He gazes at the beautiful blues and marvels at the many shades of green he glimpses in the glow of the lantern light. His father gently requests him to go to sleep and just as he gets up, the bowl slips from his hands and breaks. Tears well up in Akira's eyes, he can’t believe that this beautiful bowl, which was so flawless has now broken. He falls to the ground next to the shattered pieces and begins to cry. When his father sees what’s happened, he picks him up and tells him not to be upset and that he’ll repair the bowl in such a way that it’ll be even more beautiful than before. Akira’s not convinced however he decides to believe his father. His father is after all the chief craftsman to the mighty Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. The next morning as

Supper at Emmaus

Image In the middle of the afternoon, a man runs frantically on the shore under the fierce summer sun. He is desperate to get to Rome and is trying to catch a glimpse of the boat that has left with all his belongings. He is a murderer, a fugitive, has an infected sword wound, and a raging fever, he is also the most powerful and influential Italian painter of that time. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio died on the 18 th of July 1610 at the young age of 38, alone and penniless on a hospital bed in Ponto Ercole.   Caravaggio was born in Milan in 1571. He moved to Rome in his early twenties, arrogant and rebellious, Caravaggio was a violent man in a violent world. Rome in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century was a difficult place to say the least. Thousands of artists flocked to the city in search of work. The Vatican was a magnet for artists, and each one was competing for powerful patrons in the church .There were no rules and hostilities ran deep.

Pictographic Manuscripts - The Aztec Codex

Young Citlali climbs up to the upper deck of the ship to get a better view of the night sky. He looks up at the star laden heavens and smiles. His name means 'Star' in colloquial Nahuatl. He takes a deep breath and enjoys the cool sea breeze. The year is 1541 and the ship is sailing to Spain, it's laden with expensive gifts and jewels for the Spanish king, Emperor Charles V. However, the most precious object on board that ship is an Aztec codex called the 'Codex Mendoza'. Suddenly Citlali hears a gun shot followed by another one in quick succession. He turns around and sees a French pirate ship close on the starboard side. He quickly sounds an alarm but its too late. The pirates are already aboard. A fierce fight takes place late into the night and Citali is fatally wounded. After a fierce battle, the pirates take over the ship and plunder everything on board. The Codex Mendoza never made it to Spain. It ended up in France instead. In France, the Codex was a

Mystic Nativity

The crowds watched the thick black smoke rising up into the Florentine sky.They watched with a sense of self righteousness as the flames turned irreplaceable manuscripts, ancient scriptures, antique and modern paintings, priceless tapestries,as well as mirrors, and musical instruments into a heap of smoldering ash.  It's the 7th of February 1497. This is the evening of the notorious'Bonfire of the Vanities'.  Among the crowds is Florence's celebrated Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, who burned several of his own paintings that evening.  The'Bonfire of the Vanities' was orchestrated by the charismatic and fanatical Dominican monk, Girolamo Savonarola, who was known for his apocalyptic sermons. After the ruling Medici dynasty was overthrown in 1494, Savonarola effectively had the city of Florence captivated, both politically as well as spiritually. Florence, at the time, was a city of extreme wealth. The citizens were patrons of the arts and cul

Hamzanama: The Adventures of Amir Hamza

    As night falls the caravan of camels inches its way along the narrow mountain pass of the ancient silk route. It has been a long and tiring day for the travellers. To their relief they see the flickering lights of the Caravanserai in the distance. Once they reach the Caravanserai, their camels are fed and led away to rest for the night.   The tired travellers freshen up and then get together with travellers from other caravans passing by in the common area, to eat, drink and exchange stories.   Smoke from the hookahs fills the air, and the music is relaxing. In the corner there is a roar of laughter as the storyteller rolls his eyes in an animated manner. The travellers join the group. The storyteller is relating the colourful, action filled adventures of Amir Hamza. Amir Hamza, the hero of these stories was the uncle of Prophet Muhammad. The stories known as the ‘Dastan-e Amir Hamza’ are action filled tales of giants, sorcerers and demons. Hamza and his brave companio

The Enlightened One

  Fourteen year old Lobsang looks out of the monastery window. He can see the vast expanse of the snow-capped Himalayas in the distance. It was about seven years ago that his parents sent him here to join the order of the Buddhist monks. Gradually over the years the monastery has become his home and the other monks his family, his earlier life is now nothing but a distant memory.     Lobsang, leads a very regimented life in the monastery and spends a lot of time studying under the guidance of a very senior and learned Lama. He is waiting for his teacher; today’s class is on Buddhist art. He wishes he could go out and play with his friends instead, but he hears his teacher approaching and runs and sits down on his mat. Lobsang’s teacher is an elderly Lama. He is a very kind and gentle person and is like a parent to him in many ways. He shows Lobsang a beautiful painting of ‘ Shakyamuni Buddha ‘and explains to him that it was painted in the fifteenth century, here in this ver