Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jewellery as part of Serbian national costume

Jewellery is a universal part of human culture; its individuality – social, ethnic and personal – lies only in how its universalness responds to the traditional aesthetic rules and values typical of a particular group, nation or individual.
In view of this, the jewellery loosely defined as Serbian denotes ornaments that were worn (though not necessarily made) in the lands inhabited by the Serbian people. The jewellery was there for adornment, as well as an obligatory part of the traditional dress. The national costume has undergone a series of transformations over the centuries, to go out of use completely in the mid XX century. Fate has decreed that both national costumes to live in museum collections, as carefully guarded valuables, cultural wealth whose historical and financial value cannot be estimated by conventional standards.
Serbian national jewellery was extremely diverse; it differed endlessly in form and shape, in the parts of dress and body which it adorned, in the material it was made from, and it the techniques employed in its manufacture. Some of the ornaments were made at home, from relatively simple materials. However, jewellery properly so-called was made in specialized shops by artisans and craftsmen known as smiths. Smiths made jewellery mostly from silver alloys, often with a thin gold coating. Pieces of coloured glass or more expensive materials, such semi-precious stones, pearls and coral, were often inlaid for effect.
The techniques used were many and complex: forging, cutting, casting, embossing, lacing, enameling, engraving, enchasing, and many others. The most beautiful jewellery, however, was made in the filigree technique. By twisting thin silver wire, with an almost obligatory addition of ornamental studs, the artisans achieved outstanding decorative effects and wonderfully imaginative forms. This technique was used to make necklaces, bracelets, sashes, rings, hairpins, brooches, ear-rings, belt buckles – in fact, all kinds of jewellery worn by girls and young women, as well as men, though in a far lesser measure. Filigree workshops were to be found in all major centers in Serbia, though the highest quality filigree jewellery, unsurpassed to this day, was certainly made by the masters of Prizren. The filigree tradition in Prizren dates from the distant past. In the 19th century, this town had numerous specialized workshops for the manufacture of filigree jewelerry. However, new times and a gradual abandoning of the traditional way of dress has weakened the interest in old jewellery, affecting the supply and quality of the products and finally leading to the dying out of the craft.
Jewellery was worn on formal occasions: feast days visits to the church and, mostly, weddings. It was the custom to bedeck the bride with a large quantity of different jewellery, not only for adornment, but also as protection against evil believed to threaten the bride on her wedding day, jewellery being considered to have magical properties. Greatest attention was devoted to decorating the woman’s head: on the forehead was worn a complicated headdress held in place at the back of the head by hairpins, and the ears were hung with massive earrings. Across the chest were worn strings of chains enchased with coins, at the waist, a webbing belt with silver plates, and rings on the fingers and bracelets on the wrists.
Men’s jewellery, although much less luxurious in terms of variety, was no less beautiful than the women’s. The best known men’s adornments were massive, richly enchased filigree watch-chains worn by well-to-do town tradesmen visibly displayed across the chest; above all hung chains made of row upon row of gilded silver plates, adorned with rosettes, huge metal studs and braids – unique jewellery in kind and look, whose origin is the subject of many ancient legends.
The aesthetic and artistic value of traditional Serbian folk jewellery lies in the endless wealth of form and design. Although there are typical repetitions, each individual artifact is still unique in itself, with its own distinctive stamp bestowed by a detail which makes it an original and inimitable work of art. Some of these pieces of jewellery could take their place alongside the choicest products of the goldsmith industry in the world and be an asset in any elite jewellery collection in Europe and the world.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Southern Maine Coast

Grab a towel and sunscreen, we’re headed for the beach. Unlike the rest of the coast, where rocks, ledge and cliff define the landscape, along the Southern Maine Coast, from York through Old Orchard, miles of wide sand beaches are the rule. Build a sand castle, go surfing, play beach volleyball, swim or simply walk for miles.
Equally magical and plentiful are the region’s nature preserves. The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm comprises 1.600 acres. The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is divided among 10 sites. Bird watchers flock to the East Point Sanctuary, a Maine Audubon preserve in Biddeford. For a quiet retreat, try Saco Heath, a 500 acre preserve operated by the Nature Conservancy where trails lead through woods and fields.
Off the beach, antiquities and architecture buffs can tour the Sayward-Wheeler House, in York Harbor, and the Georgian-style Hamilton House and the Federal-style home of writer Sarah Orne Jewett, in South Berwick. Legend has it that the ornately decorated Wedding Cake House, in Kennebunk, was built by a sea captain for his bride as a substitute for a wedding cake when he was called to sea. The Brick House Museum leads architectural walking tours through Kennebunk’s historic district.
Immerse yourself in Colonial history in the Old York Village Historic District. For a taste of 19th century village life, spend a day at Willowbrook at Newfield. Military history buffs should begin in Kittery at the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum. Nearby Fort McClary is an 1846 hexagonal blockhouse. Delve into the region’s maritime history at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and the Kittery Historical and Naval Musem.
The arts are well represented here, too. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art shows works by Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent and others; don’t miss the sculpture garden. Catch a play at the Hackmatack Playhouse, in Berwick, or the Ogunquit Playhouse, a classic summer stock theater that regularly attracts well-known actors. The beautifully restored Biddeford City Theatre is listed on the National Historic Register.
Maine’s southern coast has plenty to entertain kids. There’s the Wild Kingdom zoo and amusement park in York. Amusements parks in Saco and Old Orchard Beach deliver big thrills with roller-coasters, carousels, waterslides and other riders. A gentler ride is available at the Seashore Trolley Museum, in Kennebunkport, where you can view more than 200 streetcars and take a four-mile ride on one.
Shoppers take note: Kittery has more than 125 outlet stores; antiques stores are plentiful in Wells; and boutiques, galleries and specialty stores crowd Perkins Cove, in Ogunquit, and Dock Square, in Kennebunkport.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Maine – Mid Coast

Craggy fingers of spruce-clad land reach out for the sea. The fragrance of beach roses permeates the air. Traditional fishing villages survive in the shadows of more cosmopolitan towns. Choose among fine restaurants and lobster-in-the rough; large resorts and cozy inns; galleries and boutiques; antiques and flea markets; nationally renowned museums and historic meeting houses. Add in a wealth of offshore islands, a handful of beautiful sand beaches, an abundance of lighthouses and historic forts, and scores of postcard-perfect towns. Top it off with a rich cultural scene including frequent festivals, concerts and live theater. The blend makes Mid Coast Maine shine.
A trip through the Mid Coast will dip you into Maine’s maritime history, from past to present, from five-masted schooners to Aegis cruisers. It all began at the Popham Colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Popham’s settlers abandoned the colony in 1608, after building the first English ship constructed in the Northeast. Listen for the ghostly footsteps of marching soldiers as you clamber through the ruins of Forts Popham, Edgecomb, William Henry, Pownall and Knox. Maine’s shipbuilding and seafaring heritage is documented at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and at Searsport’s Penobscot Marine Museum. Learn about Maine’s own Civil War hero at the Joshua Chamberlain Civil War Museum in Brunswick. Stop by the Shore Village Museum in Rockland to view the world’s largest collection of lighthouse memorabilia.
Artists have long flocked to this region, inspired by the natural beauty of soaring headlands, rugged shores, cozy harbors and sleepy villages. You can view their works at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland and Rockport’s Center for Contemporary Maine Art. Take home a treasure from a Belfast gallery, a Wiscasset antiques shop or an area arts and crafts show.
Mid Coast Maine is a great to get physical, too. Hike to the summit of Mt Battie for a birds-eye view of Camden. Explore the coast by sea kayak. Take a swim in the clear waters of Damariscotta or Megunticook Lakes. Explore the peninsulas of island by bicycle. Most of Maine’s historic windjammers are based in this region, and you can take a cruise on one of a few hours or a full week. Ferries from several ports carry passengers to the islands; excursion boats from Boothbay Harbor and other ports take visitors out to see seals, puffins and whales. You can even go out on a working fishing boat. End your day with a lobster dinner, either a traditional one at a dockside shack or an inspired rendition created by one of the region’s nationally recognized chefs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Maine Lakes & Mountains

Few places offer so many ways to enjoy the seasons as does Maine’s Lakes & Mountains Region. Mother Nature displays her artistic side in fall, painting the countryside with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows, using the deep greens of Maine’s towering evergreens as a counterpoint. Autumn’s pleasures are many: Country fairs, antiques and artisans’ shops, apple orchards, covered bridges. Have lunch at a general store, take a brisk hike or a leisurely paddle, and then wile away the evening by the fire at a country inn or a lakeside cabin.
When snow blankets the region, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice skating become the outdoor pursuits of choice. At Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, alpine skiers and snowboarders enjoy the only above tree line skiing in the East. Sunday River, in Bethel, sprawls across seven peaks. In Rangeley, Saddleback Mountain shares its ridgeline with the Appalachian Trail, providing a remote wilderness experience. Hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails lace the region. Cross-country skiers and snow-shores have their own back-country trails as well as modern centers with maintained trails.
When spring arrives, so do the fishermen. The crystal-clear lake waters are home to legendary brook trout and landlocked salmon. Then there are those lazy days of summer, perfect for sailing, canoeing, hiking and bicycling. Nine-mile-long Rangeley Lake is the centerpiece for 112 smaller lakes and ponds that feed into it, including beautiful Flagstaff Lake, the state’s fourth largest. Sebago, Maine’s second-largest lake, with waters so pure that it provides drinking water for the city of Portland, is popular with water sports enthusiasts and justly famous among anglers for its landlocked salmon. Long Lake is prized for its majestic White Mountain views. Rivers and stream delight paddlers as well as fisherman. The swollen Carrabassett challenges kayakers and canoeists in the spring while the peaceful Saco is a summer family favorite.
Outdoor recreation may be the region’s calling card, but there’s much more to do and discover here. Visit the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community and Museum in New Gloucester, the only Shaker village still functioning as a religious community. Immerse yourself in 19th century rural life at the Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. Learn about America’s first international diva at the historic Deertrees Theatre and Cultural Center in Harrison or view the works of Marsden Hartley, Lewiston’s most famous artist, at the Bates College Museum of Art.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Katahdin, Moosehead, Penquis

Woodlands and water have been luring visitors to inland Maine for more than a century. The seemingly endless forests were viewed by timber barons as a source of seemingly endless wealth. They felled the trees to build cities in New England first, and later for lumber-starved Europe, floating the logs downriver to ports such as Bangor. These entrepreneurs were followed by wealthy summer visitors who came to hunt, fish and relax. To serve their needs, industrious Mainers created sporting camps, usually comprised of a main lodge and cabins set on a remote lake. On larger, more accessible lakes, such as Moosehead, resort hotels were built. These in turn attracted more city folk, lured by the promise of clean, cool air and water. And then there were the early naturalists, men such as Henry David Thoreau, who came to see the raw beauty f nature and document it.
Today’s visitors come for many of the same reasons: to escape the heat, stresses and crowds of the city; to rediscover the beauty of nature by hiking, walking and canoeing; and to fish and hunt. The rivers dammed by power companies now provide reliable whitewater for rafting, canoeing and kayaking. The roads built for timber harvesting allow travelers access to remote ponds and stream for fishing and to hiking and camping areas. And many sporting camps have redefined themselves to cater to families. Today, just as a century ago, water, woods and mountains are the big attractions.
Greenville is the gateway to Moosehead Lake. Cruise the lake on the S/S Katahdin, a restored steam vessel and floating museum. Hike to the summit of Mount Kineo for awesome views over the lake. Moose Mania, held every spring, is the best time to see a moose. Local outfitters offer moose safaris by plane, pontoon boat, canoe and even dogsled.
Recreational opportunities abound in this region, from hiking Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak, to whitewater rafting the Penobscot River. Hike, snowshoe or ski into Gulf Hagas, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East”. Nearby sites such as the Hermitage, an old-growth stand of white pine, and Katahdin Iron Works, the ruins of an 1843 blast furnace and kiln, also invite exploration. Go fly fishing or snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or mountain biking. Visit Baxter State Park, a gift to the people of Maine from Governor Percival Baxter. The Appalachian Trail ends (or starts, depending on your point of view) at Katahdin’s mile-high summit.
Be sure to allow time to visit the historic sites, such as the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, in Bradley, the 1876 Robyville Bridge, the only completely shingled covered bridge in the state, in Corinth, and the remote Ambejejus Boom House. Museums, shopping, fine dining and much more can be found in Bangor, the region’s largest city.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maine Greater Portland & Casco Bay

Built on a promontory with water on three sides, Portland is Maine’s largest city, but it embraces visitors with a friendly, small-town atmosphere. It’s big enough to support a vibrant cultural scene, small enough to easily navigate. The city is reputed to have the greatest number of restaurants, per capita, second only to San Francisco.
The enchanting Old Port links Portland’s downtown business district with its waterfront. This part of the city pulses with activity. Old-fashioned streetlights and brick sidewalks set the mood, boutiques and restaurants line the streets, fishing and excursion boats crowd the docks.
The Portland Museum of Art anchors the uptown Arts District. The museum houses a strong collection of European and American masterpieces with a focus on Maine art, including works by Winslow Homer, who maintained a studio at Prouts Neck, in Scarborough. The Children’s Museum of Maine, next door, is a must for kids. Nearby are the Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland Stage Company, the Center for Cultural Exchange and the State Theatre. Merrill Auditorium, in Portland City Hall, is the home of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The Portland Opera Repertory Theatre and PCA Great Performances also stage programs here.
History and architecture buffs should consider a walking tour of the city. The Victoria Mansion is considered to be among the finest examples of Victorian villa architecture in the world. The Abyssinian Meeting House, built in 1828, was an important center of the black liberation struggle. Historic houses include the boyhood home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Neal Dow Memorial, home of the father of prohibition, and the 1755 Tate House, a fine example of the Georgian style.
Perhaps the best place to take in the view is the Portland Observatory. Built by Lemuel Moody in 1807, it reflects his seafaring ways: 122 tons of ballast hold it in place. A small museum highlights Moody’s contributions to Portland, and the 102-step climb to the orb deck is rewarded by 360-degree views over the city, the surrounding countryside and Casco Bay.
To the east is Cape Elizabeth, where Portland Head Light has been warning of treacherous ledges since 1791. South Portland is a major retail center. In Falmouth, you can wander the 2.5 miles of easy trails through the Gilsland Farm Sanctuary and Environmental Center. For more exercise, climb 383-foot tall Bradbury Mountain, in Pownal. Freeport is home of the always-open outdoor retailer L.L. Bean and more than 170 outlets, as well as the intriguing Desert of Maine. And in Yarmouth, home of the annual clam festival, don’t miss the DeLorme Map Store’s Eartha, the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Maine, Down East & Acadia

Fresh-water lakes, whitewater rivers, the highest tides in the country, quiet coves and crashing surf define Down East & Acadia, a region prized by artists and historians, adventure seekers and nature lovers. Here you’ll find Acadia, the first National Park in the East; Somes Sound, the only fjord on the East Coast; St Croix Island, the landing site of the French in the New World; and Machiasport, where the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War occurred.
The region’s landscape ranges from raw and spectacular to quiet and subdued, encompassing craggy granite cliffs and desolate blueberry barrens. Rugged fingers of land tipped with granite fingernails reach out to the sea, inviting exploration. Poke around classic villages and working harbors, browse shops and galleries, explore nature preserves and wildlife refuges. The scenery alone has earned coveted National Scenic Byway status for two routes. The 43 mile Acadia Byway winds along Route 3 from Trenton to Bar Harbor, then follows a section of the National Park’s Loop Road through Mount Desert. The 29 mile Schoodic Scenic Byway circles through Gouldsboro, Winter Harbor and a remote section of Acadia National Park.
Visit the internationally known Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, on Deer Isle. Take in a performance at the art deco-style Criterion Theatre, in Bar Harbor, or Grand Auditorium, in Ellsworth, or the recently reopened Stonington Opera House. Join a local celebration: the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival, in Machias, the Eastport Salmon Festival, Native American festivals in Bar Harbor and Pleasant Point, an arts festival on the Shoodic Peninsula and the annual Blue Hill Fair.
Historic sites abound. Learn of the role local patriots played in the Revolution at the Burnham Tavern, in Machias, and about Maine’s Native Americans at the new Abbe Museum, in downtown Bar Harbor. Marvel at the talents of Jonathan Fisher, Blue Hill’s first pastor, at the Parson Fisher House. Take a walking tour through Castine, where signs detail the town’s early history, or Cherryfield, which has a 75 acre National Register Historic District comprising 52 architecturally significant buildings. Detour off Route 1 to admire the Ruggles House, in Columbia Falls, an architectural gem.
Outdoor adventures are plentiful. Take a whale-watching or puffin-sighting cruise. Canoe the St Croix River. Go bird watching at Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge. Try fly-fishing in Grand Lake Stream. Or simply take it all in from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, on Mt Desert, the highest point on the Atlantic Coast in North America, or from the Coastal Trail at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, in Lubec, the first town in the lower 48 warmed by the sun’s rays each morning.