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The Monkey Jar

The monkey jar has been used for several centuries in Jamaica and the Caribbean though no one knows the origin of the name. (There’s probably an interesting, perhaps even a funny story that could be inserted here.)

Monkey jar

Replica of a monkey jar

The technique used to make earthenware pieces, like the monkey jar was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Once here, they adopted European, indigenous Indian and other local techniques that influenced form, function and manufacture.

Made of porous clay, with an oval-shaped body, flat base, a handle and an abbreviated spout, the monkey jar was used to carry and store water. Clay pots were used to keep water cool in the days when there were no refrigerators. Clay is still used today to keep water in communities that have no refrigeration.

Cooling jar

A large cooling jar (seen at Outameni)

Pottery-making is still practiced in Jamaica with local artists using clay that is found primarily in the northeast section of the country. The clay is mined by hand then transported out of the area. Traditional items like the yabba, a large earthenware bowl that first produced in Jamaica around 1692, are still being made. The yabba was usually handmade by women and are either by glazed or left unfinished.

 

A yabba was one of my first purchases after I returned to Jamaica. I’ve used it as a tureen and as a mixing bowl. (Will post a photo later.) The monkey jar above is a replica that I bought at the Hanover Museum last year. I’d love to find an old one for my collection.

 

 

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

 

The Pink Poui Tree

I’ve written about the poui tree in a few earlier posts. I noticed it in my neighbor’s backyard one week, it’s brilliant yellow blooms covering the entire tree, the next, there was a carpet of yellow petals on the ground. I didn’t know what to make of a tree in the tropics that loses its leaves. I was intrigued.

When I did a little research, I discovered that in addition to the yellow, there was a pink poui. Where the yellow is striking, more easily identifiable and more common, the pink is less so. It’s beauty is subtle.

Pink Poui

Poui Tree

So off I went, looking for the pink poui. Each time I noticed a profusion of pink petals, I’d pull out my camera but as I got closer, I’d realize that it was some other tree. Or, I’d see the real thing but there’d be no place to stop safely.

Weeks turned into frustrating months, one season changed into the next. I’d just about given up ever getting a shot of the pink poui in bloom. One morning as I waited for the bus that would take us on a planned tour, I noticed a pink tree on the opposite side of the parking lot. I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I was sure.

Pink poui

Poui, close up

I walked slowly towards the tree, camera in hand. As I got closer, I noticed that some petals had already started to rain on the ground, a few were on the cars parked nearby. Yes, this was a poui.

I snapped away, hoping the bus wouldn’t arrive before I could finish. It’d have to wait, I thought to myself.

Pink Poui

Poui

I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally capture a pink poui tree. Nothing could spoil my day after that!

 

 

For more photos, please check out Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travel Adventure organizes. Hope to see you there!

Everald Brown Dove Harp – Jamaica

It wasn’t hard to miss this colorful object, called a dove harp, that was part of an exhibition on view at the National Museum of Jamaica (formerly the Institute of Jamaica). I thought I recognized the work as belonging to one of our local artists but I wasn’t sure.

A quick look at the caption confirmed that the object was the creation of intuitive artist, Everald Brown, popularly called “Brother Brown.”

Everald or Brother Brown's Dove Harp

Dove Harp

Continuing, the caption noted that Brown’s “art and spirituality are bound together and are distinctly indicated through his work. His art work is the visual representation of a generously all-inclusive world view, in which just about everything is regarded as being spiritually meaningful. Brother Brown’s musical instruments bring together sound and vision, the two most important components of his mystical experiences. Their shapes and decorations are laden with intricate symbolism and were originally meant for collective ritual use by his church band.”

Everald Brown, a self-taught artist, was born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1917. He embraced Rastafarianism and Revivalism and founded the Assembly of the Living, a mission of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, in Kingston.

In 1973, Brown moved his family from Kingston to a community in rural St. Ann where they lived off the land. There, his art and spirituality flourished and he painted and carved his dreams and visions of the world around him. He also created handmade musical instruments, like the dove harp, and star banjos.

Following his death in 2002, the National Gallery of Jamaica mounted a retrospective of his work in 2004. It featured more than 100 paintings, carvings and musical instruments.

 

This week, I’m linking up with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out other photos from locations around the world. Enjoy!

Time for Church!

I’m fascinated by churches, especially their design. Sometimes they’re simple, almost stark, other times elaborate.

If I have my camera and can stop, I’ll take photos or I’ll get my camera and return later.

Whatever their design, however, churches inspire reverence.

The Parish of St. Agnes Cathedral

St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockvile Center, NY

As I waited at the Rockville Center station for the train to Long Island a few years ago, I saw this church in the distance. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked but I couldn’t get close enough without missing my train. Interestingly, the first mass was celebrated in a blacksmith’s shop with an anvil serving as the altar. St. Agnes has come a long way since then, hosting Mother Theresa in 1986.

Ephesus Church

Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist, New York

I used to stand on the corner opposite Ephesus in Harlem and stare up at the steeple. At 37 stories, it seems as if it could touch the sky. After doing that on several different occasions, I went back specifically to take a photo of it.

A fire in 1969, damaged the original steeple. It was replaced 35 years later with a new one which weights 7,000 pounds.

The Second Reformed, Hackensack, NJ

Second Reformed Church, Hackensack, NJ

I spotted this church on a side street in Hackensack, NJ. It wasn’t the one I set out to photograph but I liked the quiet elegant look of it. Researching it later, I discovered that the stained glass windows in the sanctuary were designed by Tiffany.

Capuchin Monastery Church of St. John

Capuchin Monastery, NY

I’m not sure how many times I walked pass this monastery near Penn Station, New York before I noticed the sign. Except for the statue, little else about the building says religion.

When I got home, I Googled the name and discovered that the Capucin Monastery Church of St. John is an Order of Friars that arose in 1520. It is part of the Catholic church.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.