Nowruz, a Persian hope for brighter springs

Known as one of the most important celebrations inside the Persian world which has survived throughout history since Ancient times, Nowruz is what Iranians call „The Persian New Year”. The Nowruz festival is celebrated in the day of spring equinox, when the amount of light and dark is equally divided during the day. In that day starts the first day of Persian calendar, celebrated usually on March 21.  The Persian New Year has been celebrated for thousands of years by people from different ethnic minorities with different religious backgrounds, and it started in Persia’s capital (Persis/Fars) during the great Achaemenid Empire. Many people inside Middle East and Central Asia are waiting with hope and great excitement the day when oficially, according to this tradition,  Spring embraces the nature and their lives. Countries and regions related to Persian history like Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan some parts of India and Kurdistan celebrate this event in March on 21-22. A very popular Nowruz traditional preparation is to grow wheatgrass, the green symbol of a new start for good things to happen.

„Haft-sin” and its symbols

The traditional Nowruz table is called „Haft-sin” and it must be decorated with seven items which are important mythological symbols and whose Persian names begin with the letter „sin” in the Persian alphabet.  These items are: sabzeh (wheat, barley), samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ), senjed, (Persian olive), serkeh (Vinegar), seeb (apple), seer (garlic), somāq (sumac). There are other symbols found on a traditional Nowruz table and that includes a mirror, candles, paintedd eggs, coins, traditional confectioneries, a bowl of water and a goldfish. Beside them it must be a „book of winsdom” such as Quran, Bible, Ferdowsi’s „Shahnameh” or „The divan” by Hafez.

Hajji Firuz, the messenger of Spring

A charismatic and very famous Nowruz character who’s duty is to annouce the community that Spring has arrived is called Hajji Firuz. Hajji Firuz’s face is covered in soot and he dances through the streets while singing and playing a tambourine.

Different versions of Haft-sin (traditional Nowruz table)

Nowruz traditional dance in Uzbekistan, (local artistic manifestations for celebrating Spring’s arrival).

 

The cultural rainbow of Afghan clothing

Here is the land of culture and ethnic diversity

Unjustly exposed inside the Western world’s media, as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in, where poverty and terrorism are the only reality to show, Afghanistan is a country with a remarkably beautiful culture and heritage, with a fascinating collection of traditional clothes from different regions that have their own style of garnments, colours and decorations. With Central Asian neighbours to the North, Iran and Middle East to the Western side, and to the East, with the Indian Subcontinent, there is no doubt that this country is so diverse in terms of traditions, languages, clothes and historical background regarding its ethnic minorities. You may be surprised to find out that Afghanistan is the home of more than 50 ethnic groups! During its history, for many centuries the Aghan people have influenced the clothing style of their neighbours and viceversa.

Afghan people, traditional colours and pride

It is believed that inside Afghanistan are around thirty million people, even if it is hard to calculate the exact number of country’s population. From traditional point of view, locals are divided into more than fifty ethnic groups, however the most important are the Baluch, Hazaras, Nuristani, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Turkmens and Uzbeks. You can know their origins from the clothes they are wearing, reason of cultural pride. Even if in the city of Kabul people tend to wear Western style of outfits, country’s general profile is a traditional one, and its minorities proudly wear their original clothes.

 Examples of basic items for men traditional outfits

 

 

Benefits of Za’atar! For Levantine cuisine lovers

If you live inside Middle East or at least you are a fan of its cuisine, then Za’atar should be a familiar condiment to you. If is not something that you know about, here is what you should find out about this precious spice mixture. Za’atar is popular inside the Arab cuisine but you’ll find it the most in Levantine region, in countries like Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria, as a blend of hyssop, sumac, sesame and salt. There are several traditional dishes and local pies that use Za’atar to add great flavour, and most of use love them, while another way of eating Za’atar is beside Arabic pita bread, dipped in olive oil.

Medical benefits and beliefs

In Folk Medicine, Middle Eastern people were convinced that Za’atar can reduce and eliminate internal parasites. In Palestine there are many who think Za’atar can increase the intelligence, so kids are often encouraged to eat it for breakfast, before school time.                                        Photo- Lebanese Flatbread (Man’oushe Za’atar)091f974e99c9d8bd804663ce9e996b1e

 

 

 

The impressive women of Middle Eastern’s Art scene

8e1f99bd4b9be2c40be3f6e4d44c7d4eWhen it comes to the Middle Eastern area, women are many times seen by the Western media as victims who rarely have a word to say in a male dominated society regarding their profession, hobbies and dreams. Of course, just like in many other regions, there are sad stories to share, but there also many strong ladies who became successful through their work and here are some names that may show us the opposite when it comes to women’s role in Middle Eastern’s Art scene. We have a top five of the most influential women from the Middle East, known outside of the region for promoting the culture, music and visual arts of their native land.

Antonia Carver- she’s the Director of Art Dubai. UK- born Antonia Carver holds the reins of the Middle East’s largest and most established contemporary art fair. In the past she was an art writer and administrator, and today she’s working hard to bring the Middle Eastern contemporary art to the attention of the Western world.

Lina Lazaar Jameel- has become known as an authority on bringing Middle Eastern contemporary art to international fame. She was born in Tunisia 32 years ago, and raised in Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. She is considered a key player in the recently established in the famous cultural event from Saudi Arabia called Jeddah Art Week.

Mojgan Endjavi-Barbé- this charismatic ambassador of Iran’s contemporary art works a lot for building bridges between Iranian artists and the Western world. She’s the founder of Geneva-based ILLA, where she promotes the Iranian culture, from music, to videography and visual art. Another project of hers is called „the Persian Garden of Geneva”.

Mona Khazinder is the first Saudi woman to become the general director of the internationally renowned, Paris based, Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA). This amazing lady is a force to be reckoned with in the region’s visual arts sector.

Laure d’Hauteville is seen as one of the most important names in the Middle Eastern commercial art scene. The Lebanese personality founded Artsud in Beirut in 1998, the first fair focused on Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian contemporary and modern work. (The area is also known as ME.NA.SA)

 

Moscheia Shafai Jameh, o oaza a sunnitilor iranieni

920501076adaa1c3a4bdf29577794dd8Iranul detine multe dintre cele mai spectaculoase dovezi ale arhitecturii islamice din sfera Orientului Mijlociu. Intr-o tara a carei religie predominanta este Islamul de orientare shiita, pe pamanturile sale au reusit sa traiasca de mii de ani  pana in zilele noastre, diferite comunitati cu propriile lor credinte. Nu ne surprinde asadar, ca in orasul Kermanshah ne cheama spre evlavie si conexiune cu divinitatea de aproximativ sapte decenii, moscheia Shafai Jameh, o splendida bijuterie arhitecturala ridicata in scopul de a servi drept lacas de rugaciune comunitatii sunnite din randul iranienilor. Peretii acestei moschei sunt decorati cu versuri coranice care dau o incarcatura spirituala deosebita celor care ii pasesc pragul, iar cladirea in sine este considerata printre cele mai frumoase din istoria arhitecturala iraniana. Imaginile de fata sunt cea mai buna dovada ca, intradevar, lacasul de cult islamic merita admiratie.

 

Iranienii, maestrii covoarelor orientale

De ce covoarele persane sunt atat de faimoase?
Triburile iraniene sunt cunoscute pentru tehnicile lor complexe si variate de a tese covoare unice, cu desene speciale, culori vibrante, de o calitate indubitabila. Oricine va achizitiona un astfel de covor isi va transforma locuinta intr-un mic univers oriental.
Iranienii au inceput a tese covoare in urma cu peste 2500 de ani. Ei sunt pionierii b693379286ecb3516657753780c81487covorului lucrat in casa, de-a lungul si latul regiunii intregului Orient Mijlociu si in imprejurimile acestuia. Daca la inceput covorul era menit pentru a acoperi podele si peretii locuintelor modeste in care societatile tribale de pe intinsul Podisului Iranian locuiau, mai tarziu, tehnica de tesere a acestuia a devenit din ce in ce mai diversa,  lucratorii producand adevarate opere de arta dorite de patura nobiliara si liderii vremurilor atat de indepartate si incarcate cu istorie, din spatele identitatii neamului persan. Cuceririle altor popoare au avut si parti pozitive, deoarece au ajutat la diversificarea stilurilor de tesut pe teritoriul Iranului modern, astfel ca fiecare zona a tarii se mandreste astazi cu desene si tehnici diferite de lucru. Printre cele mai importante centre de produs covoare persane se numara Yazd, Teheran, Tabriz, Shiraz, Arak, Ardebil, Bijar, Hamadan, Esfahan, Kashan, Kerman, Nain, Qom, Sanandaj si Zanjan.

Valea Hunza, gura de rai a Orientului

pakistan-hunza-gallery-GaryKrosin-client-SadparaPakistanValea Hunza este vestita ca fiind unul dintre cele mai frumoase locuri din lume, nu doar din nordul Pakistanului, tara pe al carei teritoriu se intinde. O vale muntoasa, situata in regiunea Gilgit-Balistan, Hunza se invecineaza cu tari precum Afganistan si India. Pe langa tablourile naturale mirifice cu care isi incanta localnicii, valea Hunza este un pamant al traditiilor, al oamenilor calzi cu straie viu colorate si uimitor de frumos brodate. Este o destinatie a bucatariei autentice unde savorile asiatice stapanesc papilele gustative, un loc care nu trebuie ratat, intens promovat in mediul on-line, mai ales in ultimii ani, devenit  varf de lista pentru toti blogger-ii pasionati de calatorie si savori exotice! Cateva particularitati despre localnicii extrem de ospitalieri, ar fi ca acestia inca urmeaza traditia casatoriei aranjate, sunt de religie musulmana ismailita (o diviziune a Shiismului), si datorita aerului curat si mancarii sanatoase, se spune ca ar fi mai longevivi decat alte comunitati din imprejurimi, traind chiar si pana la 120 de ani.

    (Tanara localnica a Vaii Hunza, in costum traditional)

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