Archive for the Great Destination Category

The Sphinx of Giza

Posted in Great Destination with tags , , , on November 15, 2009 by

In Greek mythology, the sphinx is a creature with a head of a woman, a body of a lion, and the wings of a bird.  This mythical creature was given a famous role of a guardian of the city of Thebes.  Anybody who wish passage must answer a riddle or be devoured.  The riddle goes: “Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”

The riddle (and a second one) was answered by Oedipus, and the sphinx killed herself in despair.  In Egypt, however, the sphinx is a symbol of power and wisdom.    Sphinxes are made with heads of kings or gods on a lion’s body.  The most famous of all Egyptian sphinxes is the Sphinx of Giza.  This sphinx has been an inspiration for many authors, film makers, historians and was even used as a subject for abstract painting.

What’s amazing about this man-made structure is that it’s made out of bedrock of Muqqatam Formation; which was formed 50 million years ago from sediments and remains of now-extinct plankton at the bottom of the sea.  It was believed a quarry was built where the sphinx stood.  The quarry was for the stones to be used for the construction of the great pyramids.  In the area where the body of the sphinx is located, the stones were believed to be substandard.

A visionary has conceived an idea to use that substandard stone to form a Sphinx.  When the Sphinx was completed, it was left for years and was buried under tons of sand.  Legend has it that when King Thutmose IV was still a prince, he fell asleep beneath the shade of the Sphinx.  The Sphinx implored the prince to uncover him from the sand and promised him the throne.  The request was granted and Thutmose was ordained king of Egypt.

Right now, the sphinx is slowly deteriorating because of the elements and smog.  Restoration only caused further damage to the Sphinx, so it was left alone.  No one knows whom the Sphinx of Giza signifies.  Most historians speculate that it was Cephren, others state it was his guardian deity.

There are other images of the sphinx in abstract art paintings.  This can be a great addition to your collection, so consider looking for a sphinx when you buy abstract art.

Taj Mahal

Posted in Great Destination with tags , , , on November 15, 2009 by

Taj Mahal is featured among the 8 wonders of the world.  It was built in between 1631-1648 under the order of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.  It is said that the construction was to fulfil a dying request of Sha Jahan’s favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal.  Legend has it that during the last hours of Mumtaz Mahal, she made him promise to build her a mausoleum of unsurpassable beauty and splendour.  True to his word, Shah Jahan built her a tomb unlike any other in the world.  Such beauty is often subjects of many gallery paintings.

Taj Mahal’s construction took 22 years under the labor of 20,000 workers.  The master architect was Ustad ‘Isa, which was the most renowned Islamic architect during that period.  Craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz, and Bukhara were employed to work on special areas in the structure.  An interlocking arabesque concept was used; each single aspect of the building has its own individual place, but is still incorporated in the whole structure.  Such concept can be applied when making an abstract art painting. When his wife died, Shah Jahan showed no interest in ruling over the city.  His obsession was to have the monument finished, as promised, for his deceased wife.  Because of this, he has failed to see the conspiracy laid by his son Aurangzeb to seize the throne.  Upon Aurangzeb’s declaration as an Emperor, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in a tower in Red Fort, Agra.  The only thing that keeps his sanity is his view of the mausoleum he has built for his wife.

The entire structure was inlaid with marble.  The marble creates such an image of the Taj Mahal during sun set, when the orange rays cast by the sun is reflected by the intricate marbling.  At dawn, the Taj Mahal gives an image as if it’s floating in air on a heavy fog when viewed from the Jamuna River.  Literally, treasure chests upon treasure chests of jewels like rubies and topaz were used to decorate the walls and ceilings of several rooms in the monument.  The intricate design and artwork of Taj Mahal is a wonderful subject for abstract painting.

The Eiffel Tower

Posted in Great Destination with tags , , on November 15, 2009 by

The Eiffel Tower is the towering icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.  It was built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, and was the highest structure in the world until the completion of the Empire State Building.  The Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris exhibition in 1889.  It stands about 300 meters (984 feet), about as tall as an 81-storey building.  This backdrop of Paris has been a subject of several abstract art paintings.

The Eiffel Tower has three levels for its visitors.  Tickets are bought depending on whether you will use the stairs or the lifts for each level.  Novelist Guy de Maupassant, claiming to hate the tower with a passion, usually had his lunch in one of its restaurants every day.  He said that it’s the only place in Paris where you cannot see the structure.  Still, many famous personalities come to the Tower to see the site of Paris as well as eat in one of its restaurants.  Jules Verne is an expensive restaurant located at the second floor of the Tower, and is accessed via private lift.

There is a controversy over the image of the tower captured in films and photographs.  In March 1992, the French Court has made a ruling that the light display of the Tower at night is protected by copyright.  No one is permitted to take a picture of the tower at night except in panoramic view.  To celebrate its 100th anniversary, SNTE (Société nouvelle d’exploitation de la tour Eiffel) installed a special lighting display on tower.  Since they are the ones who installed the lighting display, they were granted copyright privileges of night time and you must get their permission in order to publish contemporary photographs of the tower.

If you wish to make an abstract art painting of the tower, consider booking a hotel that gives you a panoramic view of the tower just to be safe.  When you get the chance to be in Paris, ask where you can get gallery paintings of the Eiffel Tower.