Valuable Greek Antiquities!!

I know, I know… three posts in two days?! (see Requiem to a Glue Gun and Homage to Miranda, 8 November) – but I couldn’t resist. I came across the following the other night when hunting for fake pearls in my bedroom drawer. (There is also a graveyard for watches there, by the way. I shall have to make another mosaic).

See this?

Ah, the Parthenon!! Remember this?
There would appear to be a trend going on here. But what a fancy pendant, eh? The coworkers all loved it!

It gets better. Have a look at the other side. Then there is this beauty:

I have no idea what purpose this is meant to have. I suspect it is something that you’re supposed to hang over your doorway. Greeks are big on hanging things over entrances thinking it’s good luck.

(And perhaps it is … until such time as it falls down and breaks – then out comes the dreaded koutala – weapon of choice of Greek mothers everywhere! – for breaking the good luck charm.

Here is a photo of my mother’s original koutala I stole it from her house. The cycle of violence ends HERE.

To be fair, I don’t think she ever used it on me. She probably just waved it around at me a few times when I was four and said “Wait until your father gets home.” However, I had blown the koutala up in my mind until it was roughly the size of a baseball bat. I actually couldn’t believe it when I found this in her kitchen drawer in my early 20s – it looked so small! So harmless!)

So, let’s turn back to deconstructing this miraculous good luck charm:

First, a door knocker.
I don’t get the “good luck” aspect of a doorknocker myself. Perhaps it just meant that the holder was the luckiest and richest person in the village because they actually had a door to hang it on? However, our modern version, the doorbell, certainly lacks aesthetic appeal in comparison.

Maybe it’s meant to symbolise knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door? Did Eric Clapton have a Greek ancestor? Hmm.

Second and last, there’s the good old time honoured severed hand:

JJ thinks the two pieces were meant to be attached at some point. Maybe so (which begs the question… WHY?!?).

I just wish I still had this good luck doorknocker sent back by relatives from Greece with me some time ago. It weighed about five pounds, and looked like a dead hand holding a big ball. I tried to put it on the door to my first crappy apartment here, and the apartment door practically came off its hinges. It apparently got lost (or stolen?) in one of the 16 or so moves since then. SIGH.

So, on to my next treasure: just what every girl needs – a fancy charm bracelet!!

And not just any old charm bracelet, mind you. It is jam-packed with ancient Greek secret wisdom. Let me share some with you (you knew you weren’t going to get off lightly when you started reading this post, so don’t give me thatlook!!!

(a) The Fish

Um, er… now I can’t remember what this means. It is some sort of Greek Orthodox religious thing. I would probably know, except I was too busy during the liturgy (when still forced to go) pinching my little brother and passing notes with my friends.

Or – maybe it’s just there because it would taste very good battered and deep fried with a rocking side of skordalia. Please note that this is not my own recipe. That remains my (not so) ancient Greek secret. However, I’ll give you one tip – use instant mashed when making it. Really.

(b) The Grecian water jug
Remember this?

I’m beginning to think that the ancient Greeks lacked imagination. Perhaps they were too busy creating democracy and philosophy (not to mention plumbing, which they then lost for a couple of thousand years for some unknown reason? Let’s blame the Turks!)?

(c) The Pompom Shoe

Oh no! Takis lost his shoe!!
Perhaps his legs were too long for him to bend and pick it up? Hmm.

(d) The Unknown

I have no clue what this is meant to be. Also, strangely enough, it resisted all attempts to get a clearer photograph than this:

So, I think it must be either an evil owl (symbol of Greece, wisdom, etc… bla bla bla) or perhaps an ogre?… no, ogres are good. A zombie??!!

NB. After the fact, I consulted JJ on his understanding of this particular charm. I wish I hadn’t. He said “Well, it’s Janus, of courrrse!”. I said, effectively, huh?!? He then turned over the charm to reveal this: Apparently Janus guarded the many treasures of the Greek Gods. I so hate it when I am one-upped on my own heritage!!!

Where was I? Oh yes. Anyway, in case this is an evil charm, it’s a very good thing that I have an image of Holly Ogre, the Zombie Slayer hanging in my apartment:

(Er… actually, I think it’s St George the Dragon Slayer. I really should have paid attention at liturgy! Ah yes – here’s another photo of him hanging around in my apartment for some reason: Notice how his face resists capture – just like the Owl/Ogre. Coincidence? I think not! This image is over the door of the oldest Greek Orthodox church in Toronto, known as St George’s. No imagination, these Greeks, I tell you!)

The Ogre/Dragon slayer is part of a huge good luck charm in my apartment:

Evil eyes, boats – we should always be safe here, touch wood.

And to magnify the good luck aspect, I’ve paired it with a disco queen luck charm to celebrate my two heritages:

Oh – by the way, do you notice where this is hanging? Over an entrance!!!! Ah, tradition!

In signing off, I note that Glasgow, Scotland (JJs hometown) has today been selected as the site for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. JJ intends to participate in the weightlifting competition but only if magnums of whisky are used as the weights.)


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