Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jewels and Precious Things...

Shiny things rarely fail to capture my interest. I can't help it. Jewellery has captured my attention for a long time. It was looking over my own photographs of jewellery from the site of Mycenae that led me to further investigate the burial rites of ancient Greece.

I was in Greece just last year, and there are relics from thousands of years ago all over the country. It is often said that there is beauty in that which is broken, decaying, or incomplete. Perhaps that, coupled with my love of 'shiny things', was what attracted me intensely to worn down pieces of jewellery from the remains of old cities and civilisations since gone.

Having looked into the burial practices of ancient Greece over the past couple of weeks, I have been starting to wonder how many cultures consider what will be found in grave sites in hundreds or thousands of years to come. It has been quite tricky to find out precisely what the ancient Greeks dressed their dead in - while there are general descriptions of 'rich garments' or 'ankle length shrouds', there is nothing specific enough to leave no doubt as to what was placed in the ground over the body of the deceased. Of course, all of this having occurred so long ago, there is no physical evidence remaining - fabric (from natural fibres) left in the ground for centuries will not endure the test of time.
What is left, though (and then found many years on), are pieces of pottery left as offerings, or items of jewellery which adorned the bodies of the (rich) deceased.
Of course, it was unlikely that there was consideration by those burying their loved ones as to what would last longer in the ground - every element that was left in the ground with the body had to do with respect or safe passage for the soul in the afterlife.

All of this has led me to developing 'lasting' aspects into my burial garment - permanent tributes into things that typically last in the ground, anyway... buttons, fastenings, and of course, jewellery can all be reworked in such a way that when they remain (but the clothes or even the bodies do not), there will be something meaningful left many years on. Jewellery, in particular, may be reinterpreted and worked into the garment itself... perhaps as decorative elements made from materials that will last much longer than the cloth. The beauty of this, too, is that these decorative elements can be replicated into other forms as a memento for the family/loved ones of the deceased - a way of remembering and maintaining a connection.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I had no idea that the jewellery we saw together at Mycenae had such an impact on you! You were so quiet, in your own little world taking photgraphs ... God, you didn't say a thing! Ha, I'm impressed. And I'm honoured that out little trip resulted in such thoughts. I'm smiling so widely right now!