In the Mezzanine Gallery, the exotic Middle East comes alive with colors, forms, shapes. Most of the functional artifacts were collected in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s. There are also ceramics
from Istanbul, Turkey, pillows from Oman, Jordan, furniture from Morocco, as well as material from other areas of the transcontinental region of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and India.
The 1970’s was situated at the crossroads of time before oil began to make significant changes to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. For example, the gross domestic product of Saudi in 1970
was 22,565 and by 1975 it was 163,670. By 2013, it was 1,975,540 at 87.5 times what it was in 1970. The increases escalated during the 1973 oil crisis.
Metalwork, basketry, pottery and wood are traditional materials in the Middle East and in almost all cultures. Many of these objects, some two or three hundred years old, have repairs showing their
continuing value through time. Pots, platters, pitchers, pourers, bowls, holders, and carriers, are meant to be used. Take in the smell of metal, a tangy earthy odor. Baskets too give off a delicate whiff of the plants they are composed of.
Sitting on large woven mats is common with pillows used to create a soft place for one’s arms. Traditionally tents were and are still used by nomadic tribes as they are easy to fold up and
transport on camels. Carpets defined the interior of the tent and are easily rolled up for moving.
The coffee ritual is similar in complexity and status to the Japanese tea ceremony. Many metal objects are required. Green coffee beans are slowly roasted over a fire. When they are perfectly done, they are pounded and ground. This alerts those nearby that coffee time is nearing. The hand ground coffee beans are then put through a box to allow through only what is needed. To the grind, various spices are added, especially
cardamom, though each family tends to have their own special blend. Water is boiled in its special pot. When sufficiently hot, it is combined with the coffee mixture to steep. The finale of this
labor is the fragrant steaming coffee delivered in small cups. It is polite to only drink three of the small cups.
Woven loose fitting garments and headgear for men and women protect skin, from the fierce sun and blowing dirt. The climate is rather similar to our own
This exhibit enables us to see objects bought in the traditional manner of bargaining in villages on Thursday Market Day, and gathered together by an adventurous and astute collector who
reveled in that very different culture from her native home in St. Louis, Missouri. Materials from other collectors will round out this experiential extraordinary exhibit.
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