Ghats of Ganges

A scene of the ghats of the Ganges River at Shiva’s Holy city of Varanasi.

Ganges Worshippers

This is a scene of worshippers along the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi. The fellow to the right, if you note, seems to be fishing. Follow his line to the splash that has caught the attention of the woman in the sari on the left. He’s not exactly fishing, at least not for fish. At the end of his line are heavy magnets, by which he hopes to retrieve lost coins and jewelry.

Blue Bull

A Nilgai, or ‘Blue Bull’, at Ranthambore Game Preserve, India (see below about 7 posts for more of Ranthambore). The Nilgai is the largest antelope in Asia. In this light you can see the slight blue tint of its hide.

Mother River

A scene along the Ganges River at Varanasi, India. The gulls look for fishermen, hoping to share their meager catch.

Good Morning Ganga

Here, young Hindu priests perform the puja or offerings ceremonies on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges) River in India. They welcome the sun as it rises over the holy river. Repeatedly, as if to coax, they lift their fiery lamps, in imitation of the rising of the sun.

Digital David

This is a common scene now when you go to see Michelangelo’s David in Florence. Lots of people take pictures, and so many seem more intent on taking pictures of the famed statue than actually looking at it. The result is the real David is surrounded by many, many little Davids on little screens, like a sort of Kaleidoscope of David.

Along the Border

This may seem a little abstract, but it’s a detail from a 15th century painting of the Annunciation in Florence. The detail is of the Virgin Mary’s gown, with the Old Testament on her lap. The legend goes that Mary was reading the prophecy in the Old Testament (Isaiah) that the Messiah (Immanuel) would be born of a virgin. Actually, it doesn’t say ‘virgin’ but,  you get the idea. Anyway, this is what they thought. So the idea was that at the moment of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel tells Mary she is pregnant, she becomes the fulfillment of the very prophecy she just read. The thing I want to direct your attention to here, however, is the script that you can see in the gold trim of her gown. It looks like Arabic calligraphy. In 15th century Italy embroidered silks from Islamic lands were prized textiles, and some of them had Arabic writing on them. The Europeans couldn’t understand what the writing meant, but they thought it was an attractive design. So the painter, here, painted pseudo-Arabic designs in the Virgin’s cloak, imitating the designs in the Islamic textiles.

Mosaic Heaven

As anyone who visits my blog knows, I love mosaics. One of the most extensive, and most detailed site in the world to see Roman mosaics is at the Villa Romana Casale at Piazza Armerina in Sicily. There, a patron of enormous wealth–perhaps even the Emperor Maxentius–built a huge villa and decorated every square inch of floor with mosaic. This detail may show the villa’s owner, who, if not Maxentius, may have been a trader and owner of a vast agricultural estate. In addition, it’s thought that he was involved in purchasing wild animals from suppliers in North Africa, which he would then sell to Rome for gladiatorial games. He appears in a magnificent mosaic that shows the loading of wild animals on and off ships.

Jantar Mantar

In the 1730s the Rajput king of Jaipur, a great fan of astronomy, had the Jantar Mantar complex built. It consists of almost 20 open air astrological and astronomical structures that are actually sophisticated and very accurate instruments measuring the passage of time, the seasons, the planets, and the stars and constellations. The result is a remarkable architecture and design. This sunken hemisphere measures the sun’s passage–along with a twin device for the southern hemisphere–through the heavens during the year.

Wild Lakefront

This is a lake in the Ranthambore Tiger and Game Preserve in India. The scene looks placid, but there’s tension in the air. To the right of the egret a crocodile waits in the reeds for a moment’s distraction. In the tree, an open-billed stork wisely hides high above in the branches. See posts below for more Ranthambore.

Not a Bore

But a boar, a wild boar at Ranthambore Gave Preserve, India, looking as if it has somewhere to go. See posts below.

Noor Number 1

In December I had the opportunity to go to the Ranthambore Tiger and Game Preserve in India (about 140 km south of Jaipur, in Rajastan). I was lucky enough to be able to see a young tigress, ten years old, named Noor (“Light”) as she lounged by a still pool in the forest. There are not many Bengal tigers left, and their very limited habitat is being encroached upon daily. The tigers don’t know where the borders of the part are, so water buffalo, goats, and sheep owned by people in nearby settlements often seem like easy meals. Farmers and herders can respond (the same thing happens in Africa with big cats) by poisoning the carcasses killed by the tigers, thus killing the tigers in return. In 1982 there were 44 tigers at Ranthambore, in 2005 there were 26. In fact, villagers, angry at having been relocated out of the park in its establishment in 1973, tried to kill the person responsible for the foundation of the park. Noor is probably the granddaughter of Ranthambore’s most famous tiger, Machli, or ‘The Lady of the Lake”, who lived to be 20 years old and died in 2016. Machli became famous not just for her longevity, but for a dramatic battle to the death that she had with a huge crocodile at the end of the lake she considered her territory.

Noor Number 2

Another picture of Noor, at Ranthambore Game Preserve, India.

Noor Number 3

Here’s my third picture of the young tigress, Noor, from Ranthambore Game Preserve, India. I think she liked me! …or just thought I might be tasty.

Amber Palace

The great palace at Amber, India–not far from Jaipur–is, as you can well see, spectacular. Hidden in its walls are a labyrinth of rooms and courts, hinting at the splendor of the past (see post below).