According to one travel source, Corfu is certainly the lushest (because of all the rain it receives!), and quite possibly, the loveliest of all Greek islands. Homer’s “well watered gardens” and beautiful rich land” were Odysseus’ last stop on his journey home. Corfu is also said to be the inspiration for Prospero’s island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The town is a blend of European influences. The Venetians ruled Corfu for four centuries and elegant Italian buildings with balconies and shutters can be seen above French-style colonnades. British rule also left a wealth of monuments and public buildings as well as the cricket pitch. On the eastern side of town is the Old Fortress standing guard over the town, a reminder that Corfu was never conquered by the Turks.
The bus let us off in a spot differently from what we had been told by the apartment owner but Steven easily managed to get us into the historic center of Corfu Town which was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Cafes and restaurants lined Town Hall Square:
The Esplanade overlooked a park which was once a Venetian firing range before being developed as a cricket ground for the British. It was empty though, probably because it would have been a mud bath from all the rain yesterday! The park is still used for cricket matches and other games as well as Corfiot celebrations and concerts.
The former British palace is now home to the Museum of Asian Art, a collection of 11,000 items that were amassed by a Corfiot diplomat during his travels overseas. He offered his vast collection to the state on the condition that he could retire and become curator of the museum. Unfortunately, he died before he could realize his dream though he was able to see its opening in 1927.
We looked first at the museum’s collection of Chinese porcelain and learned that it had been exported continuously since the 8th century.
The vast majority of export objects were decorated in the 'Famille verte (green)' and 'Famille rose' palettes; also important were the blue and white porcelain which only used a blue under the glazing.
Another favorite part of the massive collection were the ezquisitely carved ivory pieces.
I particularly loved the cloisonné pieces as they reminded me of bowls my British grandfather brought home from China and ended up being my mother’s. Steven and I are lucky enough to have them now.
In the early 14th century, the Chinese were taught indirectly by the Byzantines through artists who worked in the Armenian and Georgian monasteries, the cloisonne technique or working with inlaid enamel. Before reading this information at the Museum, I had always thought the origins of cloisonne had been Chinese.
During the 14th century AD, Chinese pottery was enriched with the systematic use of blue and white decoration under the glazing.
There were a number of paintings by Jamal, a contemporary Syrian artist, in an exhibition titled 'The Great Sill Road.' The Silk Road was the trade route that for centuries connected China with the West. This was one of his paintings:
Bronze Buddha heads from the 12th-16th centuries:
Nepalese and Tibetan figurines are blessed during religious rituals. Inside the figurines, the believers place coins, beads, seeds and paper cylinders with prayers. Gilded bronze figurines with color and inlaid with semi-precious stones dating from the 16th-19th centuries from Nepal and Tibet:
Thangkas were created with silk or cotton fabric, tempered with lime water and fish glue and made smooth with oysters. Steven bought a lovely Thangka on his first visit to Kathmandu, Nepal, some 40 years ago.
In Japanese, gei means art and sha, person. Calligrapher, poet, musician and dancer at the same time, geishas are meant to entertain wealthy and powerful mken who wish for beauty, elegance, grace and culture. The first geishas appeared at the beginning of the 17th century in the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and the most famous one in Edo. I certainly never knew they were actually men initially who were disguised and had a comic role. From the 18th century onwards, women began working as geishas. They reached the height of their fame in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The basic part of the costume is the kimono, the elaborate style of which reflects each one's rank and wealth.