DESERT FLOWER EARRINGS WITH STONES
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FLOWERS OF THE DESERT
The Desert castles, once hunting lodges of the Umayyad Caliphs, dating back to the 8th century AD, are located in the desert primarily in Jordan, with a few others in Syria and Palestine.
Considered to be among the first examples of architecture produced by the Muslims,
they are fine examples of stepping stones bridging the prevalent architectural styles of the day and the glory that was to become Umayyad architecture which culminated with the Dome of the Rock and the Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
Careful study of the ornamentation and the decorative motifs of the stone facades of these castles reveal intricately carved rosettes.
The term “rosette” is used to describe a design of radiating petals: a flower seen from above.
The earliest appearance of this motif dates back to the 5th millennium BC when it first appeared on fine painted pottery in Tell Hallaf in Syria.
In the 3rd millennium BC, the rosette or star, represented divine figures or ideas. Scenes on cylinder seals provide information about the events which occur in connection with deities and heroes.
The rosette flower has been identified as the symbol of fertility goddess Inanna in Sumerian art. In the finds at Ur, the rosette, or star, is a very common motif on all sorts of objects, suggesting it was not just a divine symbol but a good luck sign in general.
The continued function of the rosette as amulet or charm is apparent in the relief of walls at the Palace of Nimrod.
Similarly, in the 3rd millennium BC, floral motifs were major decorative forms both in Egypt and in India. In Pharaonic times the lily and other flora represented fertility and abundance, which gradually became highly stylized influencing much of the art of the Near East, later becoming a major part of the repertoire of Greek and Roman decoration, and then moving on to the art in Europe during the Middle Ages.
The rosettes chosen for this collection of jewellery and gift items once adorned the façades of the Qasr Mushatta (now at the Islamic Museum, Berlin) and Qasr Hisham, and the lily motif is the predominant decorative motif at Qasr El-Kharanah. Although not much remains of the facades of the other desert castles, with the exception of Quasyr Amra, the castles would have had similar ornamentation.
I call this collection the “Flowers of the Desert”, as the contrast of the large, elaborate and intricate rosettes contrasts with the dryness and the serenity of their present desert locations: however, since the areas of the hunting lodges were once green and lush perhaps they integrated more with the indigenous flora of the day.
Through this collection, it is the intention that these “indigenous” flowers come to life again as a reminder of our heritage, and as an attempt to revive and re-use of the intricate motifs used by our ancestors as aesthetic ornamentation.
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