One thing I never expected to do here is to fall in head over heels in love with the way Arabic looks. The gorgeous calligraphy, the way it is written, especially as it is done in art and the Qur'an; fanciful shapes of birds and animals, beautifully bordered, reminding me of the Book of Kells, I love it.
It is said, and I believe it, that Arabic calligraphy is the foremost expression of Arabic art, perhaps because figurative art has been restricted. (Interestingly, both pagan Celts and Islam also turned to knot designs for expression, perhaps because of their similar restictions on depicting the human form).
I flop and falter trying to read it, struggling even with everyday Arabic, (and I'm talking picking out individual letters, not actually understanding the meanings of the words!) let alone the artistic interpretations, but I can, and do, appreciate its swooping, graceful beauty regardless.
The nicest, and certainly the easiest way I have found to enjoy Arabic is to wear jewelry that incorporates Arabic calligraphy. You would think pieces would be easy to find here.
Surprisingly, not so much, but I have found a few, (all of which are pictured) and, importantly, people to help translate them for me.
Besides quotes from the Qur'an, which I don't necessarily feel are appropriate for me to wear, (out of respect for Islam), they say things like, if you are beautiful, then the world will be beautiful to you and think good thoughts. I gave one as a gift that said, simply, happy.
I also had a pendant custom made: my name, phoenetically spelled, could not have been thrilled to find a place that would make such a thing, and for a reasonable (Dubai) price. My sister Julia had one crafted for her too when she was here, in a teardrop shape, and it is stunning. Here is mine:
(reading from right to left, you remember)
I have definitely noticed that with all the bling flying around here, that my tastes in jewelry have shifted; on a our trip back home last summer, I went into Shane Co to have my rings cleaned and checked, and as always, I wandered around to look at the pretties. Before, I always thought, wow, how lovely, maybe someday, golly that's a big diamond. Now, I looked in the cases and thought everything looked teeny, like little girl jewelry!
Apparently not all my education under the influence of Arabic tastes has been good for me. Or perhaps just not good for the family budget. I'll do my best to restrain myself.
Wish me luck.
In the meantime, I can't wear one of these without getting complimented by a friend or passer-by, or quizzed as to exactly where did I find my jewelry? That's a nice thing.
I am all for nice things.