Mosaics fascinate me. Especially the oldest ones that depict visual reality long ago. Birds and gazelles and maps. They are in a way very primitive digital photography, capturing in colored tiles sights seen and valued by people long ago.
Tiled floors of any kind are also great fun for children to play on. They make up games to go with what ever pattern might be there.
Through out the years we've tried to take our children to historic places so that they may see and feel first hand what great thinkers and dreamers through out history have written about.
Not all our travels have been to the Middle East. When my husband goes on business trips sometimes we have been able to join him and while he works we play. He has had many trips to Massachusetts. Walden Pond has always been a favorite for me. It's in Concord, Massachusetts which is a treasure trove of authors' homes.
"Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847. His experience at Walden provided the material for the book Walden, which is credited with helping to inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment." http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/walden/index.htm
There is a path that runs along its edge through the woods around the lake sized Walden Pond which makes for a very pleasant hike.
In the States I have been easily able to take the kids to interesting places on my own. But not so in the Middle East. I would not know where to go. Nor do I speak Arabic well enough to be understood. But more importantly I simply do not have the head full of history that my husband does.
My husband when speaking English, often explains what he is thinking with an expression or saying or proverb in Arabic. He'll say it in Arabic first, and then translate what he said he said into English for me. Sometimes he will translate it literally, and I find such translations enchanting. Such a different world really, with everything from polished marble to wild camels creating a very different and more diverse folklore vocabulary than we have here in the west.
Here are some examples from http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/durham/224/proverbs.html
A Collection of Palestinian Proverbs
"Elli 3ala raasoh baT7a y7asses 3aleiha"
Literal: He who has a flask on his head can keep touching it.
"Elli 3ando 7enna y7anni daan 7maaroh"
Literal: He who has Henna can use it for his donkey's ear.
The above two proverbs are used in a sarcastic sense of describing people's pride: "IF he's got something to be proud of then he can be so (away from us)"
And for me at least, the idea of mosaics takes a logical leap up into stained glass windows, with glass rather than tiles, glass that becomes brilliant when the sun hits it... glass designed to pull together a compelling picture- and a story for those who might not be able to read.
Wandering around on the internet today I found a fascinating site on Mosaics in Palestine...
Mosaic of Bilad Al-Sham - Exibition The exhibition presents the copies of ancient mosaics representing different Palestinian cities and prepared by the Palestinian team participating in the ...
I like that this was prepared by a Palestinian team..and that so many people world wide are doing what they can to keep culture alive- to preserve and share a very precious heritage: And I like that this endeavor included training six Palestinian young people to cover the needs of a number of different pieces of mosaic in different sites all around Palestine:
The exhibition presents the copies of ancient mosaics representing different Palestinian cities and prepared by the Palestinian team participating in the Bilad Al-Sham course. Panels and pictures illustrating the work undertaken during the course are on view throughout the exhibition.
One thing certainly does lead another... I really am fascinated by all that one can explore with the Internet!
The traditional Arabic term Bilad al-Sham (Arabic: بلاد الشام , also transliterated bilad-ush-sham etc.) is a name for the whole Levant or "Greater Syria" region that today contains Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories (sometimes excluding the Jazira region in the north-east of modern Syria). The term etymologically means "land of the left hand", referring to the fact that for someone in the Hejaz facing east, north is to the left (so the name Yemen correspondingly means "land of the right hand"). The region is sometimes defined as the area that was dominated by Damascus, long an important regional centre — in fact, the Arabic word al-Sham الشام standing on its own can refer to the city of Damascus.
I like that websites everywhere are growing a positive paper trail not only introducing West to East, but also proving Palestine- and showing at least a bit of its beauty. And I like that people bother to add into Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, information that used to be impossible to find or even know unless you were a scholar with a huge library of reference books.
And so in growing a private personal garden for Palestine today, I think it is important to spend some time exploring and enjoying treasures that can be found on the Internet. Capturing ideas and colors and shapes that can be used in our gardens.
Mosaics can be made- or bought. Some can be made into tables. Play with idea- and pull the pieces together into something you like... or want to remember.
And in growing our public Garden for Palestine, I would have a large mosaic map of Palestine- historic Palestine, made by modern hands and eyes looking to capture Palestine's beauty and dignity and significance to so many people. And in Arabic as well as English every village would be noted somehow. Perhaps on a poster.
From outside the garden one would see the key shaped entry, the way in- and looking into the garden itself the mosaic map of Palestine.
But until then maybe this will have to do:
Narrations of the Nakba