Showing posts from May, 2014

Night - Shining White

The setting sun is like a fireball in the sky. There is a gentle breeze and the soft undulating hills of ancient China, look like a green carpet has been spread over them. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a stunning, pure white steed appears like an apparition on the horizon. As the majestic horse canters freely every muscle in his body ripples and his beautiful mane blows in the wind. This spirited steed is 'Night – Shining White'. He is the favourite imperial stallion of Emperor Xuanzong, of the Tang dynasty. There is something more than the sheer physical beauty of this animal; it is his spirit, which epitomizes the Chinese myth about imported ‘celestial steeds' that ‘sweat blood’ are really dragons in disguise. It is the eighth century, and Tang China is one of the greatest empires in the medieval world. Emperor Xuanzong, is referred to as the ‘brilliant monarch ‘and his reign is rightfully ranked as the classical period of Chinese art and literature.     Han

A Picture in Over a Million Pieces

It is a little after eight p.m, on a cool summer evening, when the first guests start arriving. The venue is the aristocratic, ‘House of the Faun’ Pompeii, named after a statue of a dancing faun in the courtyard. It is 300 BC and the ancient city is at its glorious peak. The parties at this residence are famous for their extravagance and as always,the guest list is extremely high brow.   As the guests walk from the outer courtyard towards the inner courtyard they slow down and stare in awe at a magnificent floor mosaic surrounded by columns. The mosaic depicts the battle between Alexander the great and Darius the king of Persia.   This ambitious work of art is 8ft. 11 inches in height and 16 ft. 9 inches in length. It is made with a million and a half pieces of tiny coloured tiles of stone and glass called 'tesserae', arranged in gradual curves known as ‘worm work ‘because they seem to replicate the slow motion of a crawling worm. The contrast between the stone and glas

Book of the Dead

As the sun sets over the Nile, there is a feeling of calm serenity over the river. Not far from here is a group of very busy men, consisting of the head scribe and his assistants. The year is 1275 BC; they are working on a scroll made of papyrus; drawing, painting and writing, creating a Book of the Dead, with different symbols, magic spells and rituals for a very well-known and respected scribe called Hunefer. The Book of the Dead was an ancient Egyptian funeral text written to assist a dead person’s journey into the afterlife. These texts, written in hieroglyphic script on scrolls of papyrus were buried with the dead in their coffins. The texts and images were magical as well as religious and the whole idea was to protect the dead person on his journey. In case you’re wondering, not all these texts were the same; in fact each was unique and contained a different mixture of spells and rituals. The Book of the Dead was produced to order by the scribes. They were commissioned by pe