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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Byzantium: She'll be waiting in Istanbul

There are few things as iconic as the famed yellow border of a National Geographic magazine except, perhaps, the religious icons of a long forgotten era of World History originating on the peninsula between the Mediterranean & Black seas... in the city of Byzantium, the cultural center of the Byzantine Empire.

 Known by a variety of names by the early inhabitants; Romania, Empire of the Romans and among the cultural elite of the main body of the Roman Empire of the West, Empire of the Greeks. This term was used to define the eastern portion of the Roman Empire by its primarily Greek inhabitants and rulers as almost a class unto itself. At least this is how I interpret the wiki article I've been perusing. As part of the entire Roman world you would think that the traditional Roman remodel would have come to this far flung area as is usual. Somewhere in history that I have yet to unearth, someone decided to make peace with the Greek factions that were conquered and given this region between the Seas for their playground. And it is here that the Greek aesthetic won out over the more subdued Roman style. So I gather.

The first use of the term Byzantium came in 1557 from a German historian named Hieronymus Wolff. It was not popularized until the Victorian era but once the name took it spread like wildfire. Byzantium is the empire's capital city and has been more popularly known by its other names.... Istanbul. And Constantinople....

You're welcome.

The magazine above was published in 1983. I clearly recall this cover. And most of the pictures inside. But for whatever reason the information in the articles is a bit hard to recover from the depths of my memory banks. All I know is that I loved the colors and patterns, the architecture and the symbolism in the things that they were restoring. And I love the places that you can see its influence. And true to the 80s style, jewel tones, icons and bold brass, bold gold patterns came into vogue from this long dormant empire back into the sun of our collective artistic consciousness. Eventually this lead to a brief fling with heraldic symbols. But the jewel tones indicative of the Empire stayed through out the decade.

While looking over the internet for suitable art work to pilfer for this post, I came across a very interesting article on an amazing art site. It amazes me just how much of the things I used to absorb as a kid and drool over just a few years ago has left the building so to speak. Obviously, with my passion for rich colors, the influence is still there. And I do wonder again. About everything. But as I am looking over the art on google and I find so many mosaics, I do wonder that anyone had the patience to put these things together. I have a hard time with a 1000 piece puzzle. As I have done eggshell mosaics and found those tedious as well, I can not think on how to accomplish these wall murals and floor designs with these itty bitty pieces of stone.

Look at the detail. You can't plan-a-gram that. Or can you? I have a hard time with printed counted cross-stich and needle work. Obviously with religion as a theme, there is a component of meditation involved with the practice that I can not fathom. So I will have to focus on subject and colors and forget about the process which undoubtedly would drive me batty.

Perhaps I will have to build a board on Pintrest to remember all these things that are still tucked away in boxes somewhere.

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