Show & Tell: armchair tour of the Middle East

This morning I got a call from Dubai. Zaina is my “twin” (we have the same birthday), and one of the first people I met when Roger and I landed in Syria for our 2-year teaching stint there many years ago.

Zaina holds dual citizenship between Syria and Canada. She and her new husband just spent the summer in Calgary and Vancouver, but we had missed each other’s telephone calls. They just returned to Dubai, where they now live and teach.

Her phone call coincides with Show & Tell. With the Middle East now on my mind, I bring you some of the souvenirs we brought home to remind us of the warm people, the rich history, and the varied culture we experienced in our vagabond years.

We got this print in Cyprus. It is a map of the world, which includes the prominently placed Garden of Eden at 12 o’clock. Nearby are Liban (Lebanon) Jordan, Judea, Babylonia, Armenia and Constantinople. Outlying areas include Anglia (England) at 8:00 and Scotia (Scotland) at 11:00.

These two prints were bought in Sefat, Israel, a center of Jewish mysticism. The first is the Kabbalah Tree of Life. Years later I referenced these in my Chakra series. The second are the Hebrew symbols alef, mem and shin:

Three Mother Letters Aleph Mem Shin in male and female Souls are
the head, the belly and the chest.
The head is created from Fire, the belly is created from Water
and the chest is from Breath that is between them.

Read right to left, the symbols form the word Shema, which means “hear” or “obey” and begins certain prayers.

Probably no need to state that this papyrus is from Egypt. I’m not sure about the depiction, but a good guess is that it’s a pharaoh, a man-god, with his earthly accoutrements, which include his wife.

Finally, this is a carpet we got in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. It carries the “Bird of Happiness” motif.

If you ever come to my house, you will not step foot on it.

Because we have it hanging on the wall.


See what other’s are bringing for Show & Tell this week. Do you have something to share?

13 thoughts on “Show & Tell: armchair tour of the Middle East”

  1. The last time I was in Safed, it was winter 1996. Wouldn’t it be crazy if we were there at the same time?All of the art is gorgeous.

  2. Pretty! Thank you for sharing.I’ve never left my country, heck I’ve ever left the Eastern part of my country.How I would love to travel, but if I can’t travel I can always live vicariously through people that do!

  3. these are absolutely gorgeous! what wonderful traveling adventures you must have had back in the day. they are ALL beautiful, but I think the map of the world and carpet are my favorite.

  4. These are all beautiful! The Shema is supposed to be said at several points throughout the day, but I always think of the Shema as a bedtime prayer said with children. If I had something like this in my house (and if I had children) it would serve as a great reminder to say the Shema every night at bedtime.It’s wonderful that your children are exposed to art from so many different cultures! And that you have been to all of these places!

  5. How late am i? Oh just a week or so, LOL! But you know I had to comment.GORGEOUS stuff and it so amazing how hebrew and arabic are so close. Not amazing i guess, as they are “cousins” but when I read the hebrew names for aleph, mim, shin they are the same in arabic, Alif, mim, and sheen.Anyway you are such a neat lady and I have missed visiting your blog. I’ll be around….if you ever get back to this part of the world, be sure to let me know. xoxoxoxox

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