Islamic Art from Mosques of Islamic Cairo

Islamic art has focused on the depiction of patterns, whether purely geometric or floral, and Arabic calligraphy, rather than on figures, because it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form is idolatry”. The Islamic artist has a palette that is more restricted than artists from most cultures; this art can be beautiful. This post shows examples of Islamic art from three mosques of Islamic Cairo, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Above, the Citadel and Mosque of Mohammed Ali are on the hill above Islamic Cairo. Compare the pencil minarets of the Ottoman Mosque of Mohammed Ali with the stubbier minarets of the Mamluk-style mosques on the left. It doesn’t rain much in Cairo, so the predominant color is the sand of the surrounding deserts. After the Citadel, we visited Islamic Cairo and the two mosques on the left and a third mosque where I took this photo from a minaret.

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Tesla Model 3 Unveiling

The Tesla Model 3 was unveiled to the public today at the Tesla showroom at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. “The Tesla Model 3 is a mid-size all-electric four-door luxury sedan manufactured and sold by Tesla, Inc. According to Tesla officials, the standard Model 3 delivers an EPA-rated all-electric range of 220 miles (350 km)”. The list price is 35,000 USD, and 325,000 reservations were placed in the first month.

With little publicity, the Model 3 was made available to the public today at Tesla showrooms in Palo Alto and Los Angeles.  We reserved two Model 3s early on the first morning that Tesla accepted reservations.  Continue reading Tesla Model 3 Unveiling

Cairo Citadel

We were surprised to learn that Egypt had been ruled by foreign powers for more than 2,000 years after the pharaohs. On a hill above Islamic Cairo, the Citadel had some buildings of these foreigner rulers:

  • The watchtower and other fortifications were built in the 12th century by the Arab Saladin, who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187.
  • The green dome in the center is the only mosque remaining from the Mamluks, former Turkish slaves who came to power in the 13th century.
  • In 1811, the Albanian Muhammad Ali invited hundreds of Mamluk leaders to a celebration for his son and slaughtered them, eliminating rivals for the control of Egypt. Mohammed Ali was aligned with the Ottoman Empire, and his Mosque of Mohammed Ali on the left is similar to Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia.

The Citadel and Islamic Cairo form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Founded in the 10th century, it (Cairo) became the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century.”

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Propagating purple Douglas Iris

This weekend I divided and transplanted a clump of this purple Douglas Iris, a California native plant. The purple iris has beautiful flowers. Our favorite iris, it’s more delicate than the white irises I propagated several years ago. They’ve done great so we’re trying the purple ones this year.

I followed the same technique I used for the white irises.

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Coptic Cairo

After seeing the Egyptian Museum, we visited Coptic Cairo, “a stronghold for Christianity in Egypt until the Islamic era”. About 10% of Egypt’s population is Christian. “It is believed in Christian tradition that the Holy Family visited this area.” The above mosaic from the Hanging Church depicts the Holy Family in Egypt.

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Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Interested in Egyptian antiquities, we started our Cairo visit at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Shown above, the pool outside the museum has lotus and papyrus, symbols of Egypt. From a Metropolitan Museum of Art article,

Due to its prevalence in the Nile Delta, the papyrus was the heraldic plant of Lower (northern) Egypt, while the lily or lotus stood for Upper (southern) Egypt. When shown wound around the hieroglyph for “unite,” these two plants formed an emblem for the unification of the Two Lands of Egypt.

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Egypt and Jordan

In November we traveled to Egypt and Jordan, finally realizing a trip cancelled by the Arab Spring in 2011.

When we talked about this trip, friends and family asked about safety. Happily for us, we stayed safe and felt safe. Our edgiest time was going to dinner, when we crossed a Cairo street with four lanes of traffic in both directions, with no stop signs or signals to stop or slow down traffic. Cairo traffic is very heavy, and we had no problems, using our experience crossing streets in Hanoi.

Highlights for us were Egyptian antiquities, Islamic art, the pyramids, Luxor temples, and Petra.

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