Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Centuries-old graffiti

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Does being old make graffiti more respectable?
So many of you had strong reactions to the post of yesterday that tonight I want to give you a nicer kind of writing and marking found on some stones of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Remember the tall entrance doors from last Friday? I photographed them from the top of these steep stairs, on what is called Golgotha or the Mount of Calvary.
See the ledge on top of the little white pillars to the left?
I was leaning on this smooth, cool ledge to take the picture of the doors below. Under my elbows I suddenly noticed the graffiti , carved in 1876!
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Blogger friend Mediterranean Kiwi of the fine One Day in Hania e-mailed her help in solving the mystery of what is written in Greek:

"MNSOT KYRIE is probably something like 'the servant of the lord'
KAISAPOYS - this name has to do with the name 'caesar'
ATHONITOY - from Mt. Athos (he must have been a monk)
GRIGORA - obviously from the name 'Gregory'
PELOP---ONHSIOS - from the Peloponese"

Centuries before the monk from Greece's holy Mount Athos arrived, other pilgrims came up to Jerusalem and showed their devotion by cutting these little crosses into the walls of the church, along the stairs going down to the Chapel of St. Helena.

I find it very touching.
To think of medieval folks who made great sacrifices to make the long and dangerous journey to the Holy Land . . . how they must have felt, finally to touch the walls of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre!
It matters little, what (if any) religion you belong to. The feel of a place much prayed in is very touching. Touching our soul.
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19 comments:

Dimple said...

This and the last post got me thinking: Since people have been writing on the walls of their environment for millenia, there must be something visceral about the process. Something instinctual. Possibly it has to do with this: In our spirit we know we will not live forever. But we were created by God as eternal beings, and our spirit knows that, also. So in order to avoid the death we know is coming, and leave some reminder of our life to those who come after, we leave our name or initials in the tree bark or on the rocks. So sometimes graffiti might be seen as an attempt to attain eternal life.

Cloudia said...

Yes, for the sensitive person like yourself, there is an emanation from all the human energy that invested itself in these special places. As all of Hawaii's land is considered sacred, there is much magical energy here....mostly loving energy fortunately, though there are places that it's wiser tostay out of....
Aloha-
Cloudia

Leif Hagen said...

An awesome series of "graffiti" photos! Interesting to find such old carvings in the stone and feel the history!

Kris said...

Variations on a common theme!

Pietro said...

So interesting, Dina!
Yes, spirituality together with prayer are important and touching apart from the religion you belong to.

Hilda said...

Now this poses a dilemma for me. I like the centuries-old graffiti, but does that mean I have to accept today's graffiti? Eek.

Nope, no way ;)

Kay said...

Very wonderful post, Dina. However, I still don't like graffiti even if it's old and even if it's meant to be some sort of affirmation of what you're feeling. It somehow still feels like a desecration but that's just me, I guess.

spacedlaw said...

At Villa Adriana, in the underground porticoe underneath the pool you have old graffiti too (although not quite as old as yours) and they are protected by sheets of plexiglass.
They are the signatures of the 18th century painters who did their Grand Tour...

JM said...

''Does being old make graffiti more respectable?'' I've found this sentence a great way to start this very interesting post, Dina! Do you know the first explorers have their names carved on the magnificent huge 3.000 yo Ramses II statues at Abu Simbel, in Egypt? It's shocking!...

B SQUARED said...

I enjoyed you commentary very much.

Reader Wil said...

There has always been graffiti,only it was called: rock painting, cave painting or murals. In some cathedrals in England one can find messages of the builders on the pilars or walls. Now we find it interesting, because it represents history. So time changes our ideas about graffiti, I think.

Stanley said...

Haha, now graffiti has evolved to be a little more colourful and vulgar. lol

mommanator said...

graffitti to some, art to others!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Well, did you know the Roman Alphabet came from graffiti on the Coliseum walls? That is to say, up until then the Roman Alphabet was always written as Capitals. It took up a lot of space in Manuscripts and that took up a lot of dead sheep and goat skins and calf skins. To cut down on the cost of something to write on, the Capitals gave way to a small version. This script took a lot less vellum and parchment so it was cheaper and a lot easier for the monks and clerics to write. A script of sorts that was gleaned from people scrawling graffiti on the walls. I studied this for many years and found the history of writing and the development of our alphabet most interesting.

I am still on vacation. Just saw what you posted and decided to say something. I was outside digging this morning and it is on Abe Lincoln Blogs but I am not yet back in business it is just a place to post the pictures of me digging in the dirt. LOL

Faye Pekas said...

The age of this graffii certainly makes it acceptable and valuable. And being carved in stone make it more durable for sure. I have seen some beautiful modern day graffiti too though. I guess people like the idea of "leaving their mark" no matter what century they live in.

Susie of Arabia said...

I think graffiti is here to stay, but I like the idea of having a designated area for it - but the graffiti artists probably think that's too limiting for them...

Sara said...

It must have been so amazing for those pilgrims to be here! Can you imagine traveling conditions back then? It boggles the mind.

mirae said...

beautiful Dina -just to say I am totally mystified and purified by your words and photos each tiny cross is elevating in a poignant way.

mirae said...

and each little cross draws my resurrection.