Shizi, Singh, Gangs Sengemo – A Lion by Any Other Name

Skilled dancers from Xiiang, Persian masks and lion masks. The heads are carved of wood, The tails are woven with thread. Pupils are flecked with gold And teeth capped with silver. They wave fur costumes And flap their ears As if from across the drifting sands Ten thousand miles away… – Bo Juyi, 9th Century   With Chinese New Year, rapidly approaching, a post about … Read more

Hail Mary!

In sorting through my old photographs recently, I was struck by this one and its timeliness – even though I snapped it more than a decade ago. Although completely unposed, the graceful curve of the neck, the adoration of the child by the mother, and the child’s alert but peaceful gaze at the viewer reminded me of dozens of European Renaissance paintings I’ve seen of … Read more

Ramadan Kareem

The time of Ramadan is almost upon us once again. Since so many of the land and maritime routes of the Silk Road ran through predominantly Muslim countries, and since Muslim traders played such an important role in moving the goods and ideas around that led to a globalization of the ancient world, I wanted to take a moment to explain the holiday to non-Muslims … Read more

Welcoming the Year of the Ox

With a loud drumroll and a crash of cymbals the two enormous lions careened up the marble stairway, and paused to survey the lay of the land before continuing into the courtyard. One golden like the summer sun, the other as black as a new moon night. Both bedecked with mirrors and a single horn in the middle of their foreheads, they looked left and … Read more

Silent Passage

The overcast sky moved quickly over the frozen earth as the end of another year slipped silently away. Films were run, one-by-one the kids played with their new games and toys and we all read lots of books. The past few days have been a delight of relaxing by the multi-colored fire of the decorated tree as our ambitious plans for entertaining and visiting local … Read more

Christmas in India

Trees adorned with lights, candles and lamps in the window, strings of paper lanterns cut into intricate patterns – all around the world, Christmas is one of the many human holidays that celebrates the return of light to the world. For Christians this light is believed to be God’s light as witnessed in the birth of Jesus. In pre-Islamic Egypt, Osiris died and was reborn … Read more

A Silk Road Gourmet Thanksgiving

With the US’s Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaching, I thought I’d offer a few recipes from the first volume of The Silk Road Gourmet to help you blend Silk Road cookery with traditional fare for the holiday feast. The first recipe and centerpiece of the meal is to be found in Iran’s wonderful Lamb with Cardamom and Pomegranate Sauce. It is an original recipe based on … Read more