Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Tomb of Prophet Daniel in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Most sightseeing sites in Samarkand are renowned for their beauty and splendor, but there is one which looks rather modest. However, it is very popular and famous, as this is the tomb of Prophet Daniel of the Old Testament. It is located at the hill over the Siab river. 

This mausoleum is very popular among pilgrims and ordinary tourists, and it seems that local youth come here just to spend time at this nice peaceful place. I guess that is better than a bar. People come to the St Daniel tomb to pray for health, and it is especially popular among women who want to give birth. 

According to Wikipedia, "there are six different locations claiming to be the site of the tomb of the biblical figure Daniel: Babylon, Kirkuk and Muqdadiyah in Iraq, Susa and Malamir in Iran, and Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Tomb of Daniel at Susa is most agreed tomb". 

These tombs come in different sizes and settings. In our case, inside a very modest building, there is a 18-meter (59 feet) sarcophagus covered with the elaborately embroidered silk shell. While the building is relatively new (1900), the grave itself dates to the end of XIV century, when Amir Timur (also known as Tamerlane, Timur the Lame, Emir Temur, etc.) was conquering Middle East. 

"Our" tomb is a "branch" of the one in Susa, which is at the territory of modern Iran. The most wide-spread legend told to us by the guide says that Amir Timur tried to conquer the city of Susa, but with no luck. The garrison of the city was ridiculously small, yet they managed to beat off attack after attack. He had to leave, and then he came back as a pilgrim in disguise, to learn the reason for the failure. He was told that the city was invincible because of the tomb of St Daniel which protected it. After that, either he took back the relics by stealth, or traded them for a peace treaty (which does not seem very logical, since the relics were protecting the city really well) - whatever was his way of doing it, he brought them back to Samarkand, the capital of his empire. Amir Timur chose a nice place on a hill (according to another legend, horses or camels chose it themselves), buried the relics there, and a spring sprouted under the hill. 

The guide cautiously said that it was not known whether Amir Timur brought back the whole skeleton, or a limb (an arm, according to many sources), or just some earth from the original tomb. She said that she preferred to err on the side of caution and say that it was earth, that was mixed with the earth of Samarkand in the new tomb. According to her, the tomb was unopened since the times of Amir Timur, as it is a great sin to disturb the dead ones. 

At the side of the tomb, there is a very old pistachio tree. It is believed that the sapling was brought back from Susa at the same time with the relics, so it must be more than 600 years old. It was completely dry for many years, but sprang back to life - surprisingly, after the Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow who was then the head of Russian Orthodox Church, visited the tomb to consecrate it and pray there. This was in 1996, and in 1997 the tree was in bloom again, which of course can be seen as a miracle. 

And this beautiful door leads to a hermit cave where people used to stay for weeks to pray and mortify the flesh. As you can see, it is locked with a modern padlock, but, as the guide explained, this is not because people around have no sins any more, but rather because the ceiling is in poor condition and needs to be strengthened. I guess there must have been several caves, or there would be a long queue to use this one. Maybe this is just an entrance to a corridor with many caves - a labyrinth under the hill - I wonder. I have a Samarkand friend who I should ask; I am sure that he must have been inside when it was still open. 

The wooden pole with a fox tail marks the place of burial of the saint according to the local tradition. A similar pole can be seen inside Amir Timur tomb, Gur-e-Emir, marking the tomb of his spiritual mentor Sayyid Baraka. And the small square building is where the water from the spring is coming out of several pipes, for people to drink and take home with them. It is a very nice water, cold and clean. You can see construction works in the background; I think the Mayor decided to grow a park there, which is nice of him. 

While this place does not strike me as a particularly beautiful one, it is very peaceful and feels good. People come there to socialise and have rest - and to pray, of course. There is a Muslim preacher who reads sermons now and then in a beautiful rich voice, and people sit and listen and pray with him. And there are always kids, running and playing around, as a symbol of never ending life. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Russian Scarves - Small Masterpieces

A Russian shawl does not have to be large in order to be beautiful. These are smaller - 88 cm or 34.5 inches - essentially they are Russian scarves and not shawls. However, they are just as bright and stunning as their larger relatives. Naturally, these smaller babushka scarves are easier to wear than gorgeous large shawls, and they will fit effortlessly into any wardrobe. 

This one was sold immediately. It reminds me of a raspberry bush even though those are roses, not berries. I was somewhat tempted to keep it, because I love raspberry and the summery feel of this scarf. 

This one was designed by the famous Ekaterina Regunova. It is characteristic of her bold and lavish style; she was not afraid of large flowers and dynamic lines. Available here

This Russian scarf has no name, and I do not know who designed it, but it also comes from Pavlovo Posad Manufacture. It is as ornate and sophisticated as a Russian lacquer jewelry box. The roses seem to be glowing, and the leaves are emerald green, and the small bead-like flowers and buds are a wonderfully elegant accent. Available here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Russian Shawl in the Colours of Autumn

This chocolate Russian shawl is very unusual. The warm autumn palette is my favourite; all the brown, orange and peridot green shades remind vividly of "season of mists and mellow fruitfullness". It is a vintage shawl from 1980s and I think it is not produced in this colour any more. 

Designed by Irina Dadonova, this shawl is called Russian Beauty, for very obvious reasons - it is very beautiful and very recognisably Russian. There is not much more to say: just enjoy the photos. I really like this autumnal beauty. It is for sale in our Etsy shop and I think it will be gone soon. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Decadent Beauty of Dry Roses

I am always sad when it is time to say good-bye to flowers. This time it was a beautiful bouquet of tiny pink roses. I had no heart to throw it away, so I let the flowers dry. But then, I do not like dry flowers just standing in a vase, because they get covered with dust and also start breaking and producing litter. So, I asked my daughter for help, and we made a very convenient dry bouquet by placing all flowers in the round glass vase. 

My mother gasped when she saw it today. I, too, find it very beautiful - in a quieter way. It also has a vintage feel.

I scented the contents with the Peace Blend by Edens Garden; it is a very nice soothing blend of Chamomile, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Lavandin, Petitgrain, Tagates and Vetiver essential oils. Now it stands on my dresser, slowly giving the scent away.

This is my first experience with dry roses. I now want some yellow ones, for a larger vase, to put in the living room. What do you think? Do you like these dry bouquets in containers?

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Treasures

Russian shawls look amazing when piled like that! I am almost ready to have them on permanent display. Actually, I have been toying with the idea of hanging some shawls on the wall, to add colour to my place. I might do it, if I find a suitable one. I would need one in the colours of fall for my living room, and something taupe and blue for the bedroom.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bright Beauty of Uzbek Silk

These are fine examples of the famous Uzbek ikat silk. They are vintage pieces, woven in the traditional manner, using narrow looms. I do not have time to write much today, and will just share the photos. Uzbek silk fabrics always brighten my day - they are so full of life and colour. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

I am wishing Happy Easter to all of you, my friends! May you enjoy love, peace, good health and prosperity, and feel safe and happy always! I also wish you time to look around and see the beauty of the world which can come in a form as simple as drops of dew on the blades of grass. Life is wonderful!

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