Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sunday and Monday in Paris

My hosts patio garden
Well I'm obviously playing a little catch up on blogging my travels.  These photos are from Sunday the 20 and Monday the 21st in Paris. I'm visiting my friends who live in the 16th Arrondissement.  They've got a great place in a quiet neighborhood near Ave Mozart.

A photo from our walk in the Bois de Boulogne in the afternoon
Evidently I brought the sunshine with me from Washington DC.  From Sunday to Thursday it is suppose to be warm and sunny here after a very long grey winter.  I'm happy to help my friends and give them a little sunshine.   Even Parisians need sunshine.  Although I'd happily trade a little DC sunshine for a Parisian crossant now and again.
The view from the bus ride on Monday morning

I was very surprised to see these hand pendants in an obviously jewish store in the Marais.  But after a little research I learned that the Hamsa with the eye at center is a shared symbol of many peoples of the middle east and mediterranean.

Here is a wonderful piece about the Hamsa's Symbolism in different cultures taken from Wikipedia.

Another Arabic name for the hamsa (or khamsa) is the hand of Fatima, commemorating Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.[3][4] Today specimens demonstrate that the hand symbolism originates in the world of sexuality.[5] Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol. Depictions of the hand, the eye, or the number five in Arabic (and Berber) tradition is related to warding off the evil eye, as exemplified in the saying khamsa fi ainek ("five [fingers] in your eye").[6] Another formula uttered against the evil eye in Arabic is khamsa wa-khamis.[7] Due to its significance in both Arabic and Berber culture, it is one of the national symbols of Algeria, and appears in its emblem.
The khamsa is the most popular of the different amulets to ward off the evil eye in Egypt — others being the Eye, and the Hirz (a silver box containing verses of the Koran).[3] The Hand (Khamsa) has long represented blessings, power and strength and is thus seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye.[8] It's one of the most common components of jewellery in the region.[3]
Archaeological evidence indicates that a downward pointing hamsa used as a protective amulet in the region predates its use by members of the monotheistic faiths.[9][10] It is thought to have been associated with Tanit, the supreme deity of Carthage (Phoenicia) whose hand (or in some cases vulva) was used to ward off the evil eye.[9]
The hamsa's path into Jewish culture, and its popularity particularly among the Sephardic Jewish community, can be traced through its use in Phoenicia.[9] Jews sometimes call it the hand of Miriam, referencing the sister of the biblical Moses and Aaron.[9] Five (hamesh in Hebrew) represents the five books of the Torah for Jews. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "Het", which represents one of God's holy names. Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa hand remind its wearer to use their five senses to praise God.

Took a slow afternoon walk along the St. Martin Canal after spending a few hours at the Bains du Marias (a turkish style bathhouse and spa).
A lovely lady protecting the French Republic 

A small central garden in the yard of the Church next door to my hosts

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