Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fashion Inspiration from the Nordic Sami People

The other day here in downtown Philadelphia I fell prey to some enchanting Free People tops and visited the neighboring Urban Outfitters too. Only this one dress there really caught my eye, Staring at Stars Linen Blanket Stripe Dress:

The reason it struck a chord with me is that it resembles the traditional Sami dress so much. Sami (or Saami) are the indigenous people of Lapland in northern Finland, Sweden and Norway. Being from Finland, I felt this dress would be like wearing a national costume when I live my life here in the US.

A Swedish designer Emma Lundgren drew inspiration for her latest collection 'Samilight' from her Nordic roots and the Sami clothing. Cool thing about her pieces is that they're made from recycled and sustainable materials like wool, wood, cupcake molds (!!) and such.

I'm visiting Finland in July and hoping I'll find some awesome, original, old Finnish or Sami jewelry, fabrics and clothes... for myself and for the store as well! :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Till Philosophers Become Kings

"There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands." Plato

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Geeky Chic Pi Necklace - Tibetan beads - Kabbalah pendant

I made a necklace with Tibetan prayer beads and an old pi pendant. The pendant broke off of an antique Kabbalah candle holder for mystic, meditative practices...

I'm really excited about this necklace -- it's fun AND it's mystical. I was reading up on how the pi has fascinated and captivated minds for thousands of years and there's evidence of people studying it for at least 4,000 years - in the ancient Babylonia, Egypt, India... 

Pi's mysticism mainly has to do with the fact that it's never-ending. For some traditions and mathematicians it symbolizes the infinite, immeasurable, spiritual world. Kabbalistic Jews believe that holy messages are hidden in numerical encryption in the Hebrew texts of the Torah.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209 7494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651 3282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102 7019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659334461 2847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432 6648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920 9628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841 4695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193261179 3105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011 9491298336733624406566430...

The necklace is for sale in my Etsy shop :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hamsa - Hand of Fatima - changing hands

Hamsa is Arabic and literally means 'five'. It is understood that the five fingers push away the evil eye and ward off any negative energies. Hand of Fatima refers to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Centuries ago hamsa got into the hands (!) of some Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities as well and they renamed it to Hand of Miriam. (In the Bible, Miriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron.)

Arabic Christians adopted hamsa as a bearer of good fortune and called it the Hand of Mary. When the Islamic rule of Spain ended, the Hand of Fatima was so widely used there that Emperor Charles V banned it along with all open right hand amulets in 1526.

Hamsa is widely used in Algeria, Egypt and in Israel. It's hung on the walls of rooms, doorways and shops, and worn as pendant.

I work in a store that sells jewelry and people request hamsa pieces on a weekly basis. There are tons of hamsa necklaces, bracelets and earrings out in the market but it's rare to find a genuine, old North African silver hamsa with the traditional coral and glass bead decorations. I would imagine an original piece has a much more powerful energy attached to it to protect its wearer from negative influences. Actually I can feel that it is so when I hold this original African Hand of Fatima I have for sale in my Etsy shop:

You can tell when a piece of jewelry has a lot of history behind it. Sometimes I wish a vintage or antique pendant would talk to me... Describe the people, places, times it's lived through. 

I came across some photos of Prada 2005 Fall RTW show and, lo and behold, the jackets have hamsas on the chest. I love it when old traditions are appreciated in modern art or designs - however, I have mixed feelings about some of the ways it's done when cultural appropriation looks dangerously close.

The image of right hand is universally a sign of protection - it was found in Mesopotamian artifacts. The Greeks had the Hand of Venus (Aphrodite) which was used to ward off evil eye, strengthen the weak and help with fertility. The Buddha has several mudras or hand gestures and one of the most common ones is the mudra of blessing - an open right hand. This amazing giant Deity of Buddha sits in Lo Pin monastery in Hong Kong, blessing the village below.

"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." Buddha