Valide Sultana Hammam

The steam bath was built in the seventeenth century, and was dedicated to the sultan’s mother.

It had six chambers, and was heated by an underfloor heating system (hypocaust).

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Fragment of the original floor & the heating system underneath it.

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Possibly a flue for hot air circulation..

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Enamel Painting in a Medieval Village

Few weeks ago I visited an ‘open air’ museum complex and got the chance to attend an enamel-art workshop. It was a throw back in time…

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‘ingredients’

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‘getting started’

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after coming out of the kiln

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~ The Pink Room ~

Some of the pink art works from the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory:

 

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Visiting Alice…

 

 

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~

Visiting the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory

Here are the best-ofs of the ‘Golden Age of Zsolnay‘ exhibition, located in the Zsolnay Quarter, Pecs, Hungary.

The pieces belonging to the Art Nouveau collection are mesmerising.

Hope you enjoy watching the photos!

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The Chimney of the Factory

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Porcelain Column in the Zsolnay Garden

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Blue tile of the Column

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La Luna

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Happy 100th, Amrita!

The reformer of modern Indian painting, Amrita Sher-Gil would be turning 100 years old this year.

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Amrita Dalma Sher-Gil was born in Budapest, Hungary (30th January 1913) to a Sikh father and a Hungarian mother. Both her parents were aristocrats, providing Amrita with an excellent education.

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Amrita and her sister, Indira spent their childhood in Hungary, then with the end of the First World War the family moved back to India.

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A few years later, in the early 1920s Amrita moved back to Europe with her mother in order to study art. She was enrolled at schools in Florence and Paris  (École des Beaux-Arts).

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Young Girls, 1932, by Amrita Sher-Gil

With her painting, Young Girls, she became the youngest and the only Asian elected as an Associate of the Parisian Grand Salon in 1933.

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Amrita is often compared to Frida Kahlo, and called the ‘Indian Frida Kahlo’, because of her unique style, her bisexuality, and her reputed libido.

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In the 1930s she travelled to Hungary several times, where she met her future husband, Egan Viktor, a medical student.

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While staying in Hungary, Amrita Sher-Gil was inspired by the rural life and created several paintings focusing on this theme.

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In the 1930s she ‘discovers’ India, examining the ancient art of her father’s homeland. As a woman who lived and travelled in the West, Amrita Sher-Gil recognised the contrasts between East and West, ancient and modern rather clearly. In her art work she reflects on the beauty of this unique duality of contrasts, which she also finds in her own heritage.

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In 1939 Amrita Sher-Gil and her husband, Viktor Egan moved to Gorakhpur, India. Egan opened his own medical practice, while Sher-Gil was concentrating on her art work.

Two years later, on 5th December Amrita Sher-Gil suddenly became ill, fell into a coma, and passed away.

Some Facts about Sher-Gil:

  • She was the niece of the well-known Hungarian Indologist, Ervin Baktay.
  • Amrita’s mother tongue was Hungarian.
  • Her mother, Gottesmann Marie-Antoinette, was an opera singer, trained by Puccini himself. She committed suicide after her daughter’s premature death.
  • Her father, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil, was a famous linguist, a scholar of Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit.
  • Amrita Sher-Gil was also musically trained. She played the piano and the violin.

 

Love and Light

 

Noémi

 

Wolf-Alice

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‘Sometimes the sharp ears of her foster kindred hear her across the irreparable gulf of absence; they answer her from faraway pine forest and the bald mountain rim. Their counterpoint crosses and criss-crosses the night sky; they are trying to talk to her but they cannot do so because she does not understand their language even if she knows how to use it for she is not a wolf herself, although suckled by wolves.

Her panting tongue hangs out; her red lips are thick and fresh. Her legs are long, lean and muscular. Her elbows, hands and knees are thickly callused because she always runs on all fours. She never walks; she trots or gallops. Her pace is not our pace.’

Angela Carter – The Bloody Chamber

Slipping Back in Time

After a whole year, finally I could pay a visit to my Grandmother. She lives up in the mountains, so it took me some time to get there. However, while sitting on the bus, marveling at the beautiful wintry, snow-covered landscape, going deeper and deeper into that old, isolated, rural world, I found myself slipping back in time. Leaving the city’s constant murmur and lights behind, slowly slithering away from the matrix of electricity and technology, I could reconnect with nature and with that indescribable, inherent sense of human condition; that pure existence.  It is so simple; the winter nights are so dark and endless. There is that silence when it snows…

Anyway, after arriving and having a huge lunch (and consequently a big nap after eating), my Granny and I began to chat away, going through old photographs. We found a photo of my late grandfather’s parents. I can’t remember even seeing them, knowing their faces. However, there is a beautiful and striking story that I keep in my mind about them. It was my grandfather who told me this story in 2010 when I took a gap year and decided to travel and spend some time with my loved ones.  (I am so grateful for having done that…and of course for having the chance to do that.)

During the summer of 2010 I had the best conversations of my life so far. I am so fortunate that I can say I asked all the questions I wanted to ask from that generation who are no longer with us. Including my grandfather. I asked him a lot about the famous revolution of 1956…how he and his troop dealt with the traumas. However, I never asked him about the World War since he was a child back then, but I asked him about the beautiful Hanukkah menorah standing in the window..how on earth we have one?!

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He told me that when he was a child his parents had been working in Germany. They were away for a good few years, not knowing when they would be able to return. That was the only way of keeping the family going financially. How heartbreaking it must have been for my great-grandma to leave her child behind…Can’t even think of it. She entrusted my grandfather to her Jewish neighbors who were raising him up during those years. However, my great-grandma sewed a fabric ‘necklace’ or a tag that my grandfather could wear and could not take off. The little tag contained his name, date of birth and his parents’ names. Just in case, if anything happens. And something did happen. The Second World War broke out. My great-grandparents stuck in Germany, my grandfather living under the wings of a Jewish mother in Hungary, raising him along with her two daughters as if he was her own.

My grandfather had always been a strong man. I cannot remember having seen him crying at all. He lived through wars, witnessed how his family lost everything from one day to another, how foreign nations occupied his country…but when he began to tell me about the day when the nazis came to take them, he broke down in tears. He told me that he also had to wear the yellow star for some time, and nobody thought in the beginning that it would go any further than being ‘marked’. They lived in a small village that had never been really disturbed by the storms of history ever. But the nazis did come and caused major disturbance. He said they arrived on a huge van and forced the Jewish family in the back of the car. When the mother asked one of the soldiers to give her some time to pack some of their belongings up, she was laughed at the face, then got beaten up. They had to leave as they were..my grandfather was already jostled in with them in the back of the truck when his stepmother cried out that at least let him go since he is not even Jewish, making references to my grandfather’s ‘necklace’. They checked his tag if she was saying the truth and made some quick investigation with the mayor of the village. So the nazis let him go, then they left straight, taking away the family. He never saw them or heard from them ever again.

My grandfather found himself standing alone in the yard of the Jewish family’s house, having nowhere to go. Within a few hours’ time, ‘vultures’ appeared and sacked the house. One of these vultures felt an enormous pity when found my grandfather crying hysterically so he gave him the menorah to calm him down and also a job. Since he had nobody, and nobody was sure if his parents would ever return from Germany. He was only 5 years old when he started working on the fields.

Fortunately, withing a few months’ time his parents returned. Which was quite a miracle..I have no idea how they were able to get back, but they did return and reunite.

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My great-grand parents in the 1930s on their wedding day.

I always feel so moved by that story, and when thinking about it, I always send my gratitude to that Jewish mother who saved my grandfather, wherever she may be. I don’t know her name, I don’t know her face, yet she plays such in important role in my life. So does my great-grandmother. Looking at her face..now that I found this photograph, I also send my gratitude to her. It is a strange feeling to see her figure appearing in this old piece of paper, knowing that we are deeply connected, sharing the same genes, only a few decades separate us….yet I could never touch her, I could never see her dry, papery like hands, but she is a part of my life and she is a part of ‘me’. I am made of her. Yet, she is so far and so close.

‘I am the sum total of my ancestors, I carry their DNA. We are the representatives of a long line of people and we carried them around either with. This long line of people that goes back to the beginning of time. And when we meet – they meet other lines of people, and we say bring together the lines of me.’