Turquoise & Yellow: Trending Spring Colors

Songkran: Family, Renewal and Water Fights for the Thai New Year

Architectural Wonders of India

Handcarved Soapstone Supports AIDS Orphans

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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Turquoise & Yellow: Trending Spring Colors

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Patchwork Overdye Turquoise                                       Patchwork Overdye Yellow

Spring is here, and not a moment too soon! So while packing away your wool blankets, make sure to replace them with lots of bright, cheerful colors. This season is all about Turquoise and Yellow, our favorite trending spring colors. These two colors are super on trend for spring and have been popping up in a range of hues all over the runways, magazines and design blogs. It just so happens that these are some of our favorite colors and we are so prepared for this trend. Check out some of our best examples below, and don’t forget to stop by our Pinterest too for even more favorites and trends!

Turquoise / Aquamarine / Sea Green / Teal
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Clockwise from left: Teak Bookcase  /  Teak Desk  /  Sideboard

 

Yellow / Lemon / Butter / Gold
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Songkran: Family, Renewal and Water Fights for the Thai New Year

tumblr_n3zfa0nWpP1sxb3k2o1_1280-2Sawadee Pee Mai! – That’s Thai for Happy New Year! In Thailand, the beginning of the New Year is celebrated in April, the hottest month of the year. The New Years celebration is called “Songkran festival”. The word Songkran means “to pass” or “to move into”. It is derived from the Sanskrit language and in the context of Thai New Year it refers to the passing and moving of the sun, moon, and other planets. The celebration typically lasts for three days, and consists most famously of people partying in the streets and throwing water at each other. Sounds like fun! This year, Songkran was celebrated From April 13 through 15.

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Renewal

The festival taking place in the spring is significant as it represents the renewal of the earth after winter, as well as the beginning of the new year. To go along with this theme, people in Thailand clean their homes from top to bottom for the beginning of Sonkran.

Water

Water is representative of cleansing and purifying the self for the new year. Water is the trademark of the Sonkran celebrations, as it is known as “The Water Festival”. Basically, people walk around with water guns and buckets of water, splashing and soaking everyone around.

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While the water symbolizes a cleansing & rejuvenation for the new year, it is certainly nice to cool off! 

Buddha

Buddhists visit temples and water is poured onto images and statues of Buddha, and over the hands of monks to show respect.

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Family and Community 

Many Thai people travel to spend time with family during Songkran. The festivities of Songkran bring together all the different members of the family and society, and unite their relationships with each other, as well as with nature.

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 Even the Elephants get in on the fun!  

Events and Traditions

The first day of the festival is called “Songkran Day”. All over the country there are parades and processions featuring images of Buddha. The water throwing also begins on this day.

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 The Songkran Queen

The second day of Songkran is called “Wan Nao”. This is the celebration of the old Thai New Years Eve. It takes place on the day when the sun travels between Pisces and Aires. Many Buddhists go to their homes this day to build Sand Chedis, which is a sand castle that looks like a Buddhist Temple.

The third day of Songkran is New Years Day. Offerings are left at temples this day, amongst other festivities.

Visiting

Many tourists plan their trips to Thailand around Songkran, as visitors are welcome to join in the festivities. In fact, if you are walking around during this time, it will be difficult to avoid getting soaked.

View more photos on our Tumblr!

In some cities, this centuries-old tradition includes a good smearing on passersby of colored talc as a symbol of good luck.

Architectural Wonders of India

We just received a large shipment of new treasures from India, adding to our beloved collection. We cannot get enough of Indian culture, aesthetic and history. Have a look below at some of our new (and old favorite) merchandise, and a couple of the architectural wonders they remind us of.

The Mandore Gardens-Mandore India

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The Mandore Gardens contain a temple dedicated to 330 million Gods. The gardens themselves certainly do not fall short of equaling the temple’s magnitude. Other temples, chhatris and high rock terraces border large lawns and topiaries. There is also a governement museum, which is filled with artifacts from the bygone era, and also contains the previously mentioned temple dedicated to various Hindu Gods who are worshipped all over India. The Gardens are in the small town of Mandore, which is located about 6 miles from Jodpur. Mandur was the original capital of the Rajputana kingdom before Marwar. The town is known for the famous gardens, which were built around the red sandstone cenotaphs or Chhatris, made for the Rathore rulers. The Mandore fort is is also there, but has not been maintained well like the gardens have. Tourists mainly visit Mandore to see these two attractions.

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These rustic shelves are reminiscent of the Mandore Garden temples with thier muted hues and detailed arches. The figurines and ornate carvings seem like they were taken directly ot of a Mandore Temple. They are whimisicle in nature, and yet the faded colors and soft edges give a down to earth, organic quality.

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Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir,”The Red Temple”- New Delhi, India

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Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is the oldest and most well known Jain temple in New Delhi, built in 1656. It is red sandstone, and is known as the “Red Temple”. It is also known for a veterinary hospital in a second building behind the main temple, called the Jain Birds Hospital. The temple is located within the historical district of the city, on the main street Chandni Chowk. This area, referred to as “old city”, was founded by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658). Chandni Chowk Street was built in front of “The Red Fort”, which was the imperial residence. The Red Fort is directly across from the Red Temple. During this time, several financers were invited to come and settle in New Delhi and given land. They were of the Jain religion and permitted by the emperor to build a temporary structure for a Jain temple. During this period (Mughal period) it was illegal to build a sikhara (Sanskrit word’s literal translation of “mountain peak” refers to the rising tower in the Hindu temple architecture) for a temple. A sikhara was not built until after India’s independence, when the red temple was added to and rebuilt extensively.

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At the front of the red temple is a manastambha or “column of honor”. This is a traditional feature of Jain temples, and its size is intended to remove the pride of a person entering the temple. There is a small courtyard, surrounded by a colonnade. Across from the courtyard is a terrace, leading to the first floor of the temple, and the central area of prayer and devotion.

Within this area are many shrines, the most important being of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthanara of Jainism. He was born in 599 BC as a prince, but renounced all worldly possessions and went in search of Moksha or salvation. He reached “enlightenment”, and spent the rest of his life preaching. Other important shrines are of Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankara, and Lord Parasnath who was the predecessor of Mahavira. The people come to the red temple and leave offerings of fruit, grains and candles. The red temple is said to be popular due to its soothing ambience and for the shining of the gilded paint under the candles and lamps.

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I am obsessed with the folding screens pictured above. They can be added to  room not only to add a burst of rich color and as a statement piece, but they are also so functional. A screen can be used to create a barrier where there is none, a divider between different areas in an open space, or my favorite, to conceal a mess. A unique & massive iron toran with individual tea light holders is pictured below.

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We will be back soon to discuss more of the new additions to our extensive Indian Collection and other beautiful places for you to read about.

Handcarved Soapstone Supports AIDS Orphans

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Above: Mohr & McPherson’s store manager Karole Moe with students at the Okari School in Kinsii, Kenya.

Margaret Okari started taking in orphaned children when the AIDS pandemic hit Africa. She knew these children would thrive with education and the right advocates, so she searched for sponsors and boarding schools that would take the orphans in. As the number of orphans increased, so did Margaret’s dedication and ideas. Unfortunately Margaret died of hepatitis, but her sister Kwamboka continued to work towards their shared vision.

During the AIDS pandemic, Kwamboka Okari lived in America, importing soapstone from Kenya and selling it in upscale boutiques. Many of the soapstone carvers began to die, leaving orphans behind. Because of her work, Kwamboka was acquainted with the workers families and she used her network in America to help Margaret support and advocate for the children.

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Soapstone carvers at work on The Okari School campus. This tiny chair was carved for Karole to resemble the life-size one at the work site.

After seeing the success of the children who the Okari sisters had helped, the town of Kisii Kenya donated 5 acres of land to build a school, primarily for children who lost their parents to AIDS. They built classrooms, two dorms, and a dining hall. Today, the Margaret Okari Children’s School provides 200 orphans with a home and an education. Although there are many programs dedicated to helping orphans in Africa, the Okari School stands out because of its effort in providing a sustainable future to the children. They do this through a focus on education, health & human services, leadership and sustainability.

Our store manager, Karole Moe, spent time in Kenya, working as a teacher at the Okari School. The  school supports the local carvers by exporting their work and using the profit to support the school. We are lucky enough to sell a number of soapstone carvings at Mohr & McPherson.

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People have been working with soapstone for three millennia. It is a pliable stone used for carving and decorations. This art started in Asia – mainly China – and spread through the rest of the world from there. In ancient Greece, the Cretans used soapstone to make stamps and receptacles. The vikings used soapstone carvings in their jewelry. In Africa, Zimbabwe is known for producing many large soapstone sculptures. The height of Zimbabwe’s soapstone production was between the 11th and 16th centuries. Europeans began using soapstone in the 17th century, and the material became most popular during the Art Deco period between the 1920’s and 1940’s.

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Soapstone figurines,dishes, trays and display pieces available at Mohr & Mcpherson. 100% of profits go to supporting The Okari School.