Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


When we were visiting the church of St. Nicholas in Demre, I thought some of the decorative work in the stone and frescoes reminded me of Celtic designs. I had learned about the famous Book of Kells when I studied art history in college. The intricate Celtic knotwork combined with Christian iconography was very memorable to me. I had even tried my hand at creating some of my own Celtic designs a few years ago. I didn't expect to see artwork that reminded me of that style in Turkey.
Image from the Book of Kells

Stylized celtic inspired dragon in pink and blue, © 2005 Tina M Welter
Ink on paper, © Tina M Welter 2005  
Details from the Book of Kells
I chose these to show the design elements simplified.
I haven't discovered the exact connection, but I did read that the tradition of ornamenting books was something that passed down from Egyptians, to Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and then of course Constantine, who made Christianity legal in 325 A.D. in Turkey. By the early fifth century, the religion had spread to Ireland. The Book of Kells was decorated by Columban monks sometime in the late eighth or ninth century. They may have been located in Iona, a small island in the inner Hebrides, off the western coast of Scotland. This island was known as a center for Celtic Christianity.
Stone spiral, from the Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Carved stone knot work, from Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Floor mosaic "knot", from the Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Stone "knot" from Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

I don't know if the decorative work I saw in Turkey had any connection to the later work by the Celtic monks, but they certainly took the style to a new and extremely elegant art form.

Jeff's Corner: St. Nicholas knows if you've been "knotty" or nice!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's All In The Details

Sometimes I just felt I couldn't take in the whole effect of some of the ancient city ruins we went to. When I realized this, I set a new goal for myself, namely "focus on the details". I wasn't sure how this would play out, but eventually I began to recognize patterns and could get very excited when I found something new.

The cities that had a lot of Roman and Greek influence: Ephesus, Hierapolis, Pergamon and Patara had similiar column styles, square details from the ceilings, the human figure carved in a certain way. I photographed any detail that caught my eye.
Colonnade to Asklepion, Pergamon Turkey
I found the carving detail along this "sacred way".

Asklepion columns, Pergamon, Turkey
Entrance to the library.

Asklepion carving, Pergamon, Turkey
detail from an arch.

One morning when we were seeing Asklepion, the ancient medical center, which is just outside Pergamon, I saw a pattern I hadn't noticed before. I got a photo and moved on. Later that day, we were at the "Red Basilica", which didn't look like much at first since the marble covering was long gone and only the red brick core still stands. There were mostly only marble pieces left, but as I was looking, I realized some of these "details" looked very Egyptian, and the detail on the dress of one of the figures was the same as the detail I had seen earlier at Asklepion! What was going on?
The Red Basilica, Pergamon, Turkey
Marble fragments in the foreground.

Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, dress carved in marble, Red Basilica- Pergamon, Turkey
lower half, back view of her dress.

Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, top half of dress, carved in marble. Red Basilica-Pergamon, Turkey
Top half, with dress bodice.

Egyptian style sculpture. Goddess Sekhmet. Detail carved on dress in marble. Red Basilica-Pergamon, Turkey
detail on the dress

We found a plaque that explained that the name "Red Basilica" was a bit misleading. It had originally been built as a second century AD temple to the trinity of Egyptian gods: Serapis, Harpokrates, and Isis. It had been converted into a basilica by the Byzantines. It was one of the seven churches addressed by St. John in the Book of Revelation. He referred to it as home of the "throne of the devil", perhaps he was referring to the Egyptian cult that still had it's followers! We had no idea. I was thrilled to see a little piece of design that had found it's way through time. Does anyone else see how this design has surfaced in our day? Maybe it is just me... tell me what you see.

Jeff's corner: Jeff is headed for New York, but if he has any comments I will post them.