Monday, February 19, 2018

Carpe Diem #1373 Syrian Desert (Southern Route)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are on a journey along the ancient Silk Road, a renown trade route straight through Asia. And today I love to inspire your imagination through a wonderful image of the Syrian Desert. So this will be a very short episode, because of lack of time.

Syrian Desert
shadows dance
against the sand mountains -
stark blue sky

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Levant, later on. For now have fun!



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Carpe Diem #1372 Mesopotamia


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What an amazing month this is. We are on a journey along the ancient Silk Road, a trade route straight through Asia. We started on the Northern Route around the Taklamakan Desert and now we are on the Southern Route. This Silk Road, there were several, we are now visiting ancient Mesopotamia. Let me tell you a little bit more about this ancient country.

Mesopotamia is a historical region in West Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq plus Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

The marshes in the delta region of Euphrates and Tigris today

The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, eastern part of it fell to the Sassanid Persians. Division of Mesopotamia between Roman (Byzantine from AD 395) and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines. A number of primarily neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene, Osroene, and Hatra.

Mesopotamia (AdobeStock)
Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. It has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture."

I think you all have heard from this ancient country. It has a very rich history in is mentioned in the Bible and the Qu'ran, so there is a connection between these religions. That connection we will explore next month as we will "read" the Qu'ran. I have already started reading it and I only can say it's a beautiful book to read and I hope to explore it further next month.

As you know during our journey along the Silk Road we are reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and in that story a river plays a role too. As Siddhartha decides to go the Samanas he has to cross a river and after several years, and after his wealthy period with Kamala, he decides to leave again, He than needs to cross the same river again. He however doesn't cross the river because he becomes the apprentice of the ferryman. That part of the story we will discover later this week.

land of two rivers
which river I have to follow?
A new path chosen

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 25th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Carpe Diem Weekend-Meditation #20 Revise That Haiku


!! Open for your submissions next Sunday February 18th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new CDHK Weekend-Meditation. This weekend I love to challenge you to "revise" a haiku created by one of the classical haiku poets. This weekend-meditation that will be a haiku created by Chiyo Ni (1703-1775). Let me first tell you a little bit more about Chiyo-Ni.

Chiyo-ni (Kaga no Chiyo) was a Japanese poet of the Edo period, widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of haiku. Being one of the few women haiku poets in pre-modern Japanese literature, Chiyo-ni has been seen an influential figure. Before her time, haiku by women were often dismissed and ignored. She began writing Haiku at seven and by age seventeen she had become very popular all over Japan and she continued writing throughout her life. Influenced by the renowned poet Matsuo Bashō but emerging and as independent figure with a unique voice in her own right, Chiyo-ni dedication toward her career not only paved a way for her career but it also opened a path for other women to follow. Chiyo-ni is known as a "forerunner, who played the role of encouraging international cultural exchange".

She is perhaps best known for this haiku:

morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water
© Chiyo-Ni
Today, the morning glory is a favorite flower for the people of her home town, because she left a number of poems on that flower.

Chiyo-ni standing beside a well. This woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrates her most famous haiku: finding a bucket entangled in the vines of a morning glory, she will go ask for water rather than disturb the flower.
The "Morning Glory" haiku is one of her renown haiku. I think you all have read this one very often. This is the haiku you have to "revise" this weekend. It will not be an easy task, but I think you all will succeed in this task.
Of course I have given it a try myself, and it was for sure not easy, but I think this "revision" is really nice (how immodest).
in the light of dawn
Morning Glory embraces the well
my neighbor gives me water
© Chèvrefeuille
What do you think of this "revision"? Please share your thoughts through the comment-field.
This weekend-meditation is open for your submissions next Sunday February 18th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 25th at noon (CET). Have a great weekend and enjoy this challenge to revise this renown haiku by Chiyo-Ni. 
 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Carpe Diem #1371 Sansara (the cycle of life)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Kai. This month we are on a journey along the ancient Silk Road. A renown trade-route straight through Asia. While we are on this journey we are (trying) to read a very nice and spiritual novel written by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha. A story about a young Brahman-son who is on a quest for Enlightenment. A few days ago I told you that Siddhartha had found Kamala, a rich courtesan. Through Kamala he is attracted by beauty and wealth, because Kamala wants a lot of goods and more richness of him. Siddhartha becomes a man of the material world. And that made the connection with the ancient Silk Road.

I am a bit "stuck" on prompts about the Silk Road, as I told you earlier this month I hadn't thought that making a whole month about the ancient Silk Road was this difficult.


For today's episode I have chosen to share a part of "Siddhartha" with you. In this part of Siddhartha we see how he is "running" away from his home and his beautiful Kamala. In other words "he is running away from the world". Siddhartha has finally found insight in his life and that the life he lived as a wealthy merchant will not bring him the Enlightment he is looking for. Than the story takes a turn ...

[...] " Siddhartha walked through the forest, was already far from the city, and knew nothing but that one thing, that there was no going back for him, that this life, as he had lived it for many years until now, was over and done away with, and that he had tasted all of it, sucked everything out of it until he was disgusted with it. Dead was the singing bird, he had dreamt of. Dead was the bird in his heart. Deeply, he had been entangled in Sansara (cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence), he had sucked up disgust and death from all sides into his body, like a sponge sucks up water until it is full. And full he was, full of the feeling of been sick of it, full of misery, full of death, there was nothing left in this world which could have attracted him, given him joy, given him comfort.

the forest
quiet as never before
even the birds


© Chèvrefeuille

Passionately he wished to know nothing about himself anymore, to have rest, to be dead. If there only was a lightning-bolt to strike him dead! If there only was a tiger a devour him! If there only was a wine, a poison which would numb his senses, bring him forgetfulness and sleep, and no awakening from that! Was there still any kind of filth, he had not soiled himself with, a sin or foolish act he had not committed, a dreariness of the soul he had not brought upon himself? Was it still at all possible to be alive? Was it possible, to breathe in again and again, to breathe out, to feel hunger, to eat again, to sleep again, to sleep with a woman again? Was this cycle not exhausted and brought to a conclusion for him?
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (cover)
Siddhartha reached the large river in the forest, the same river over which a long time ago, when he had still been a young man and came from the town of Gotama, a ferryman had conducted him. By this river he stopped, hesitantly he stood at the bank. Tiredness and hunger had weakened him, and whatever for should he walk on, wherever to, to which goal? No, there were no more goals, there was nothing left but the deep, painful yearning to shake off this whole desolate dream, to spit out this stale wine, to put an end to this miserable and shameful life.
tears fall
on the bank of the river
weeping willow

© Chèvrefeuille
A hang bent over the bank of the river, a coconut-tree; Siddhartha leaned against its trunk with his shoulder, embraced the trunk with one arm, and looked down into the green water, which ran and ran under him, looked down and found himself to be entirely filled with the wish to let go and to drown in these waters. A frightening emptiness was reflected back at him by the water, answering to the terrible emptiness in his soul. Yes, he had reached the end. There was nothing left for him, except to annihilate himself, except to smash the failure into which he had shaped his life, to throw it away, before the feet of mockingly laughing gods. This was the great vomiting he had longed for: death, the smashing to bits of the form he hated! Let him be food for fishes, this dog Siddhartha, this lunatic, this depraved and rotten body, this weakened and abused soul! Let him be food for fishes and crocodiles, let him be chopped to bits by the demons! With a distorted face, he stared into the water, saw the reflection of his face and spit at it. In deep tiredness, he took his arm away from the trunk of the tree and turned a bit, in order to let himself fall straight down, in order to finally drown. With his eyes closed, he slipped towards death.
eyes closed
dreaming away into oblivion
beckoning death
© Chèvrefeuille

Then, out of remote areas of his soul, out of past times of his now weary life, a sound stirred up. It was a word, a syllable, which he, without thinking, with a slurred voice, spoke to himself, the old word which is the beginning and the end of all prayers of the Brahmans, the holy “Om,” which roughly means “that what is perfect” or “the completion.” And in the moment when the sound of “Om” touched Siddhartha’s ear, his dormant spirit suddenly woke up and realized the foolishness of his actions.
entering Heavens
finally purified and without ego
I became wise

© Chèvrefeuille

Siddhartha was deeply shocked. So this was how things were with him, so doomed was he, so much he had lost his way and was forsaken by all knowledge, that he had been able to seek death, that this wish, this wish of a child, had been able to grow in him: to find rest by annihilating his body! What all agony of these recent times, all sobering realizations, all desperation had not brought about, this was brought on by this moment, when the Om entered his consciousness: he became aware of himself in his misery and in his error. Om! he spoke to himself: Om! and again he knew about Brahman, knew about the indestructibility of life, knew about all that is divine, which he had forgotten.
Brahmans Siddhartha and Govinda (painting by Scharkan, Deviant Art)
But this was only a moment, flash. By the foot of the coconut-tree, Siddhartha collapsed, struck down by tiredness, mumbling Om, placed his head on the root of the tree and fell into a deep sleep." [...] (Source: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)
Of course the story continues. The part after the above given one is in my opinion the most beautiful story written ever, but that we will read next week as we are closing in to the end of February.
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new weekend-meditation later on. For now ... have fun!
 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carpe Diem #1370 Karakoram Mountains


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful Valentine's Day and that your secret lovers have surprised you. We are on a journey along the ancient Silk Road, a renown trading route straight through Asia. We started with the Northern Route around the Taklamakan Desert and yesterday I wrote that we are on the Southern Route and that's were we catch up again after our short stay at the home of Kamala together with Siddhartha. During his years together with Kamala, Siddhartha becomes very wealthy and rich. Together with Kamala he got a son, whom he never had seen. He saw his son for the very first time when he works as a ferryman, but that's a story for later this month.

At the start of this month I thought to journey along the Northern and Southern Route around the Taklamakan Desert, but as I wrote yesterday "this month is tougher to create than I thought. So for once I am glad that I don't have a complete prompt-list, because now I can decide to take another route. Also a Southern Route, ... let me tell you a little bit more about this Southern Route.


The southern route or Karakoram route was mainly a single route running from China through the Karakoram mountains, where it persists in modern times as the international paved road connecting Pakistan and China as the Karakoram Highway. It then set off westwards, but with southward spurs enabling the journey to be completed by sea from various points. Crossing the high mountains, it passed through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route near Merv, Turkmenistan. From Merv, it followed a nearly straight line west through mountainous northern Iran, Mesopotamia, and the northern tip of the Syrian Desert to the Levant, where Mediterranean trading ships plied regular routes to Italy, while land routes went either north through Anatolia or south to North Africa. Another branch road travelled from Herat through Susa to Charax Spasinu at the head of the Persian Gulf and across to Petra and on to Alexandria and other eastern Mediterranean ports from where ships carried the cargoes to Rome.

 Because of lack of time, I am on the nightshift, I have another nice photo-challenge for you or in other words I love to inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form through an image of the Karakoram Mountains.

In the Karakoram Mountains you will find one of the most famous peaks of the world ... K2 also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori and is the second highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest (8,848 metres), at 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level.

Karakoram Mountains
mountains
the silence between the clouds
a faraway sound


© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... not as strong I had thought, but in a way it gives words to what I see, feel, smell, touch and hear as I look at this photo. Look at the beauty of that stone blue sky, the man and horses in the middle. Look at those tough guys in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the Karakoram Mountains. I would love to be there and comfort them, but I also would love to hear their stories.

around the campfire
listening to the song of the mountains
the trader's stories 


© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 21st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Carpe Diem #1369 Kamala


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our daily haiku meme Carpe Diem Haiku Kai were we are on a journey along the ancient Silk Road, especially the route around the Taklamakan Desert. As I started this month I wasn't aware how difficult it would be to create these every day themes, because it takes a lot of my time to do research, but ... well all for the love of haiku and our CDHK family of course. I enjoy this month, but I don't know really why I have chosen to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hess simultaneous. I really struggle with this combination, but I just have to go on with this month and the challenge I have taken myself.



Yesterday we had a wonderful episode about "What was traded along the Silk Road" and I think I created a nice episode. That trading was also my clue to share another piece of Siddhartha, because in this wonderful novel about a young Brahman son on a quest to find Enlightenment there is also a part in which Siddhartha choses to become a man of the world, a trader. After his time under the wings of the Buddha he runs into a beautiful woman, Kamala, a rich courtesan, who also trades several goods and owns her own business. Today I love to share a part of Siddhartha in which he first sees this wonderful and beautiful Kamala.

[...] "At about noon, he came through a village. In front of the mud cottages, children were rolling about in the street, were playing with pumpkin-seeds and sea-shells, screamed and wrestled, but they all timidly fled from the unknown Samana. In the end of the village, the path led through a stream, and by the side of the stream, a young woman was kneeling and washing clothes. When Siddhartha greeted her, she lifted her head and looked up to him with a smile, so that he saw the white in her eyes glistening. He called out a blessing to her, as it is the custom among travellers, and asked how far he still had to go to reach the large city. Then she got up and came to him, beautifully her wet mouth was shimmering in her young face. She exchanged humorous banter with him, asked whether he had eaten already, and whether it was true that the Samanas slept alone in the forest at night and were not allowed to have any women with them. 

Climbing The Tree

While talking, she put her left foot on his right one and made a movement as a woman does who would want to initiate that kind of sexual pleasure with a man, which the textbooks call "climbing a tree". Siddhartha felt his blood heating up, and since in this moment he had to think of his dream again, he bend slightly down to the woman and kissed with his lips the brown nipple of her breast. Looking up, he saw her face smiling full of lust and her eyes, with contracted pupils, begging with desire." [...] (Source: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)

To make this fragment more clear I just have to share the dream Siddhartha had also:

[...] "In the night when he slept in the straw hut of a ferryman by the river, Siddhartha had a dream: Govinda was standing in front of him, dressed in the yellow robe of an ascetic. Sad was how Govinda looked like, sadly he asked: Why have you forsaken me? At this, he embraced Govinda, wrapped his arms around him, and as he was pulling him close to his chest and kissed him, it was not Govinda any more, but a woman, and a full breast popped out of the woman's dress, at which Siddhartha lay and drank, sweetly and strongly tasted the milk from this breast. It tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower, of every fruit, of every joyful desire. It intoxicated him and rendered him unconscious.—When Siddhartha woke up, the pale river shimmered through the door of the hut, and in the forest, a dark call of an owl resounded deeply and pleasantly." [...] (Source: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)

Buddhism along the Silk Road

What has this to do with our journey along the Silk Road? Well ... I think with this fragment we enter a more personal part of the Silk Road. Along the Silk Road there must have been something like places were the traders, mostly man, could find there pleasures, if you understand what I mean. And I think that the "Kama Sutra" ideas were also spread along the Silk Road, because the Silk Road wasn't only a trading route but also a route to spread ideas and believes from other countries. We already saw that Buddhism came along the Silk Road and maybe this "Tantra-philosophy" also came to the several countries along the Silk Road. Maybe I am just someone who thinks to much and loves to share his thoughts with his audience, but I love to share these things with you all.

A little controversial episode I think. At the one hand the "Kama Sutra" (the world) and at the other hand Buddhism (the Inner world), but I think it fits our theme ... the Silk Road. The Silk Road was as controversial as this episode ... so I think I can publish this.

for the first time
climbing the tree of love
along the Silk Road


© Chèvrefeuille

Awesome ... a beautiful haiku (how immodest), but full of mystery.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 20th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. By the way ... with this episode we are entering the Southern Route around the Taklamakan Desert.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Carpe Diem #1368 Trading Along The Silk Road


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are on a journey along the Silk Road, a renown trading route once established by the Han Dynasty. We have visited several beautiful places along the Northern Silk Road around the Taklamekan Desert, but what was traded along this ancient trade route? That's what we are reading about in this episode.


What was traded along the ancient Silk Road?

Besides silk, the Chinese also exported (sold) teas, salt, sugar, porcelain, and spices. Most of what was traded was expensive luxury goods. This was because it was a long trip and merchants didn't have a lot of room for goods. They imported, or bought, goods like cotton, ivory, wool, gold, and silver.

Goods that were traded along the silk road
The goods carried on the Silk Road moved basically from the East to the West. Judging by the road’s name silk was the main commodity in the list. Thanks to its light weight, compactness, enormous demand and high price it was ideal for trade and long-distance transportation.

At the initial stage of the Silk Road development Chinese received expensive horses and the seeds of lucerne and grapes. The ancient world had cultivated grapevine and made wines from time immemorial. But for Chinese, separated from other civilizations, grapes were a novelty. Moreover, Chinese envoys were very surprised when they found that it was possible to make wine not only from rice but also from berries unknown to them. Later Chinese discovered for themselves other agricultural crops – string beans, onions, cucumbers, carrots, pomegranates, figs etc.

Various woolen goods, carpets, curtains, blankets and rugs, came to China from Central Asia and East Mediterranean. They made huge impression upon Chinese who were unfamiliar with methods wool and flax processing, carpet manufacture and weaving. Highly appreciated in Ancient China were Parthian tapestries and carpets.

Spices

Central Asia exported camels which were very appreciated in China, military equipment, gold and silver, semi-precious stones and glass items. Samarkand made glass was especially valued due to its high quality. It was considered as luxury goods. Other goods were skins, wool, cotton fabrics, gold embroidery, exotic fruits – water-melons, melons and peaches; fat-tailed sheep and hunting dogs, leopards and lions.

From China caravans carried the well-known Chinese china – snow-white vases, bowls, glasses, and dishes with graceful patterns. Only Chinese owned the secret of making the thinnest and resonant porcelain, therefore, it was very expensive in European markets. Bronze ornaments and other products from this metal, ornate bronze mirrors, umbrellas, products from the well-known Chinese varnish, medicines, and perfumery were also popular. Chinese paper, one of the most remarkable inventions of Chinese technical genius, was highly appreciated too. Gold, skins and many other things were exported as well. Merchants also carried tea and rice, woolen and flax fabrics, corals, amber and asbestos. The sacks of merchants were filled with ivory, rhino horns, turtle shells, spices, ceramic and iron items, glaze and cinnamon, ginger, bronze weapons and mirrors.

Chinese porcelain

India was famous for its fabrics, spices and semi-precious stones, dyes, and ivory. Iran – for its silver products. Rome received spices, fragrances, jewels, ivory, and sugar and sent European pictures and luxury goods.

Eastern Europe imported rice, cotton, woolen and silk fabrics from Central Asia and exported considerable volumes of skins, furs, fur animals, bark for skin processing, cattle and slaves to Khoresm. Northern Europe was the source of furs, skins, honey and slaves.

Slaves ... I hadn't thought about that "dark history" of  Europe, and they were sold along the Silk Road. That wonderful trading route that has to bring us inspiration this month has that dark side too and that brings me ... to another kind of Silk Road. That Silk Road you can find on the Dark Web or the Deep Web.

dark times relived
global discussion about racism
silk road reopened


© Chèvrefeuille

Maybe a (to) strong response on this episode, so I have ran through my archives to find a few other verses I created:

spices
along the silk road
perfume of thousand spices
overwhelms me
colorful silken clothes displayed
thin like Chinese porcelain


© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... I like this tanka, created impromptu, I couldn't find a nice verse in my archives.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!