Roxelana

Suleiman “the Magnificent” was the tenth and longest-reigning, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to his death in 1566.  He had four concubines whose sole purpose was to bear his children.  In addition there were over 300 other concubines who were slaves that were given, purchased, or captured in war by the Ottomans.  These were usually Christian slaves’ and one of these women was Roxelana. Roxelana was Ukrainian and had been captured and taken as a slave to the Crimean city of Kaffa, a major center of the slave trade, and resold to Istanbul where she was selected for Suleiman’s harem.  She quickly rose up through the ranks, capturing the attention of the sultan becoming one of his favorites. Roxelana is known also by her Turkish name of Khourrem, meaning “the cheerful / laughing one”, for her high spirits and storytelling abilities.

 You can imagine the ire the other concubines felt toward Roxelana; especially Sultana Gulfem, whose son Mustafa, was considered to be the heir to the Ottoman throne.  Roxelana used her influence over the Sultan to have Mustafa, accompanied with his mother, sent away as governor to a far province of the Empire in 1534.  Soon after, Roxelana bore Suleiman a son, who she hoped would replace Mustafa as Suleiman’s heir.  Roxelana soon climbed to the position of chief consort in the harem, as well as chief minister to the Sultan.

Next, Roxelana managed to do what no Ottoman concubine before her had done – she convinced the Sultan to marry her.  Islamic law permitted a sultan to take up to four wives, plus as many concubines as he could afford to keep. Until Suleiman, no Ottoman sultan had married even once. Breaking with 300 years of Ottoman tradition, Suleiman married Roxelana in a formal ceremony. The marriage caused a stir throughout both Europe and the Islamic world. She bore Suleiman four more children, and one of her sons, Selim, inherited the Empire. Suleiman allowed her to remain with him at court for the rest of her life, despite another tradition that when imperial heirs became of age, they would be sent along with the imperial concubine who bore them to govern remote provinces of the Empire, never to return unless their progeny succeeded to the throne. Selim succeeded Suleiman as Sultan in 1566, after a struggle with his brother, Bayazid.    Roxelana died in 1558, eight years before her husband.

Brandt, George. “Choosing Between Henry VIII and Suleiman the Magnificent’s Approaches to Succession Management”.  Forges Magazine.  3 June 2012.  Web  3 June 2013.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2012/05/03/choosing-between-henry-viii-and-suleiman-the-magnificents-approaches-to-succession-management/

“Roxelana a woman with power at the Ottoman Empire”.  Business with Turkey.  10 Oct 2002.  Web.  2 June 2013.  http://www.business-with-turkey.com/tourist-guide/roxelana_harem_sultan.shtml

“Ukrainian Slave Wife the Ruler of Islamic Empire: The Story of Roxelana”.  Russian Women Speaking English.  13Dec2006. Web.   3 June 2013. http://russianwomenspeak.wordpress.com/2006/12/13/ukrainian-slave-wife-the-ruler-of-islamic-empire-roksolana-story-aka-roxelana/

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Southwest Tribes Art through Basket Making

When you think of art from the Southwest tribes, most often people think of Indian baskets, pottery and turquoise and silver jewelry.  Baskets have religious symbols and are often part of the tribe’s origin story.  Each tribe has its own unique style  and historically, you see which tribes combined when put on the same reservation or because of tribal preservation  because in their artwork they developed a distinctive joint style.

Basket making was one of the earliest skills developed since baskets were needed for carrying goods, for storage, for trapping and fishing, and for religious ceremonies.  Unlike pottery, baskets do not survive for extended periods of time.  Most that are available today were constructed in the last 120 years, particularly after native people in the Southwest began to make baskets with the idea of selling them and moved baskets into the category of artistic collectables.  Those made between 1880 and 1930 tend to be the most valuable, particularly if they are in good condition, well-made, and have an interesting design, but these latter factors can make any basket desirable.

Navajo identify four ancient baskets in their origin stories each a color of one of the clouds found in the First World and these colors are still used today in basket making.  These ancient baskets were used to keep creation in order and in harmony – all objectives of the Dine people. Navajo basket making has declined in recent decades but survives because of the importance of wedding baskets. Such baskets are used as part of the religious wedding ceremony and are expected to reflect a common pattern: The center is a star with four white points representing the four sacred mountains that surround the Navajo land.   Some traditions suggest there are six sacred mountains and therefore six points. These mountains surround an open area representing where the Navajo first emerged into this world and is surrounded by a white area representing birth.   Today’s basket weavers use the black design to “…symbolize the darkness (night) and clouds that bring the rain. The white part inside the black design represents the sacred mountains. Usually, there are four or six points in this part to designate the sacred mountains. If there are four points then they represent the four sacred mountains. If there are six points then two more sacred mountains are added. The outside white area represents the dawn and is tied together with the outside rim which represents a person’s thoughts, prayers, and values. The red part within the black design represents the life giving rays of the sun” (Ben Gorman 1997). The basket weavers follow the direction of the sun in her weaving and any additional fibers are added in the same direction of the doorway of their hogan.

The most valuable baskets are those made by the Apache and Yavapai.  Both tribes traveled a lot probably making well-built baskets more important, but, in the latter part of the 1800s, the two groups were forced onto the same reservation in the desert near San Carlos.  In this unpleasant harsh life, the women had a chance to share techniques although both groups maintained their own style.  After they were allowed to return to reservations in their more traditional areas, both groups recognized that they could generate a modest income by selling their baskets and production increased. Apache baskets tend to use contrasting colors and geometric or pictorial designs. The traditional ones are very sturdy [because of the three coils] and the external weft is usually willow with material from devils claw seed bags for the dark color.  The willow tends to start as an off white but ages to a golden tan or light brown.  A sun-burnt willow that is darker and reddish was sometimes used for decoration. Dark red yucca root was also used for design work in rare occasions. Apache designs are less symmetrical and, at times, seemed cluttered.  They frequently include figures (human, dog, deer, and snake).  Weavers suggest that it is helpful to let the basket talk to them and tell them the design rather than planning it ahead of time.  As a result, there is less consistency in weave as well as design but such variation can add interest. The use of devil’s claw has declined in modern Apache designs.

The Yavapai used similar methods to those of the Apache with traditional baskets made with 3 rod coiling and from willow with devil’s claw and yucca root.  Some were twined and used dyes, but most were very sturdy.  Among the older, some were so tightly woven that they could hold water.  The Yavapai were more likely to plan their baskets in order to produce symmetry and made extensive use of triangles and star designs.  The star tended to be in the middle with the triangles using dark black color and radiating outward.  Their baskets tended to have less content, but some of those made for tourist sales added things like place names.  This pattern contrasts with earlier ones that were made to tell a story and were said to generate a feeling of contentment in the maker.

Hopi baskets are among the most plentiful reducing their value.  They most commonly used sumac and rabbitbush bundles of galetta grass and yucca.  Their baskets take all three forms – twined, coiled and plaited, but coiled are most common on 2nd Mesa and plaited ones with wicker are particularly common on the 3rd Mesa. Hopi baskets stand out for the amount of color used and reflect extensive production of dyes.   Blues, yellow and orange are common. Kachina designs are common.   Basket making has significantly declined in the pueblos along the Rio Grande with New Mexico pueblos concentrating on pottery and jewelry.  The Hopi, though, have continued to make baskets with a particular reputation for plaques.  These plaques are made by a bride’s family and given to the groom’s family as repayment for the bridal robes that are traditionally woven by men of the groom’s family.   Brides will also often make one for her husband but will leave it undone to suggest that his life remains unfinished.

The Tohono O’Odham [which in their language means Desert People] are assumed to have descended from the Hohokam after the latter dispersed into the desert.   As a result, they are assumed to have inherited the Hohokam’s well developed basket making skills.  Their traditional baskets are coiled from bundles of bear grass sewn with yucca that has been bleached white in the sun.   They also add devil’s claw seed pods for black and unbleached yucca for green or yellow-green.  On some occasions, red yucca root is also added.  In closed stitch baskets, the weft is wound tightly covering the warp.  In open stitch ones, there is space between the weaves so that the warp shows through.

The Akimel O’Odham [or River People] have very similar basket making practices but use willow and cattail which are more abundant in their area.  The cattail was bundled for the coil and the willow was used for weaving.  Devil’s claw was used for the dark part of designs.  Cattail is more supple than bear grass making their baskets more pliable.

 Both groups usually start with a four square or plaited knot and then wrap the bundles around this center.  The basket walls are pounded with stones to make them smooth and flat.  Basket making has gradually declined with the Akimel O’Odham but is still common among the Tohono O’Odham, who have an association that supports production. Certain designs have been commonly used including the Man in the Maze, the Sunflower, and the Turtle.

Basket Making Among Southwestern Native Tribes.  The Smoki Museum.  Web.  1 June 2013.    http://www.smokimuseum.org/basketmaking.htm

Kennedy-Simpson, Georgianna. Navajo Ceremonial Baskets: Sacred Symbols Sacred Space.  Native Voices, 2004.  Web.  1 June 2013.   http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/

 Sheridan, Thomas and Nancy Parezo

      1996  Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico. Print.

      Tucson: The University of Arizona Press

 

Sublette, Mark.  “Apache Indian Ollas”. Web.  1 June 2013. http://www.apacheollas.com/.

 

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Hajj

I was surprised at the similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity; the difference being that Christianity believes in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  All focus on charity, prayer and worship and the declaration of faith and trust, – professing there is only one god and that all men (and women) are equal.

The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca is quite the undertaking.  Before you leave for Hajj, all of your debts and financial obligations must be fully discharged before you start your journey and, where necessary, a written acknowledgement of the transaction obtained for future use.  You must make an honest effort to resolve your outstanding differences with others and seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt in any way in the past.

Going on Hajj probably will only happen one time in a Muslim’s life.  All three individuals highlighted in the documentary spend considerable time in preparation thereby minimizing physical discomfort, emotional aggravation and monetary expenses, but also to enabling them to perform Hajj in relative peace of heart and mind.  The contrast between the three really spoke about how all are equal in God’s eyes and on this pilgrimage.  I think it was a huge undertaking for the two American women to go on their own – really gutsy, but it didn’t appear that they felt unsafe at any time.

I think it was interesting that the man from South Africa was aware of how the poor living in the area contrasted with the ideals of Islam and how someone from out of the country decided to do something about it.  Obviously not everyone lives and speaks their faith who live in the area by taking responsibility for the poor.

The notion that all are equal before God is good but I was surprised and not surprised that being comfortable has nothing to do with being equal – comfortableness relies on money that not everyone has.  The sheer number of people traveling to mecca was astounding and I would think those involved in the hajj service industry would soon tire of the millions of people every year.  Even as someone going to Mecca and dealing with that many would be physical and emotionally exhausting but It seems that the emotional high one receives while there makes up for all of the lost sleep and constant pushing and prodding by so many.

I think for many Americans the idea of pilgrimage to Mecca just doesn’t fit for us – maybe we aren’t spiritual enough, maybe we aren’t zealous enough, passion or maybe it’s just the notion of  being with all of those sweaty bodies for so long – there are other ways to achieve spiritual nirvana without all of the turmoil.  I think we are spoiled and we feel our Christian God doesn’t ask so much from us.

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The Lost Treasure by Mustafa Honsi

Start anything you do with the name of God; our substance comes from God alone.

Forget all the worries that encumber you; trust in God and no one can hurt you.

When you need help, turn only to God.

Always rely on God, the merciful, only God can turn a desert into a benign torrent.

Even if your heart is burning with grief, only God can grant relief.

You may suffer life’s misfortune, but with a heart filled with faith, a dream of the Prophet Muhammad will grant you peace.

And if you are patient, life’s misfortune, but with a heart filled with faith, a dream of the Prophet Muhammad will grant you peace.

And if you are patient, you earn God’s pleasure and He will wash away your sadness.

Caught in the darkness of grief, turn to God and repent for your relief.

If God wills you to visit His house, and you attain the honor of praying next to the Prophet Muhammad’s grave, whom would you praise and give thanks to for all blessings but God?

In the Islam religion there is only one God.  Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable.  They believe their purpose in life is to love and serve God.  The religious concepts and practice include the five pillars of Islam and while found in the Qur’an, they are considered an obligation and foundation of Muslim life and touch every aspect of life and society.  The five pillars are sung about in Islamic music.

God is described and referred to by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahmān, meaning “The Compassionate” and Al-Rahīm, meaning “The Merciful” and He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls Him.  Muslims have a direct line to God through prayer.

Considering some of the Islamic extremists, I can see how the words of this song could be a comfort to both the extremists as well as, families and individuals who have been touched by terrorism.  Music for centuries has been written around these themes; popular music today still continues to sing about trust in God, prayer, looking to God when you are suffering, grief and life’s misfortunes.  God is the only one that can give you protection and relief   This music seems to reflect thoughts, attitudes and the anguish felt by so many Muslims today.

Honi, Mustafa.   We love God.  The Lost Treasure.   Youtube. Web.  26 May 2013.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKJ3qUHJPaI

Matthews, Warren.  World Religions.  Print.  Belmont:Wadsworth.

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Metakinesis

 

I think it is always interesting to read about your faith from someone else’s eyes, especially if that someone is an anthropologist!  I have been aware of the similarities in ancient creation myths of other religions and the similarity to the stories found in the Bible.  None of that really bothered me; some of those Old Testament stories DO seem a little farfetched.  But then we get to the New Testament and a lifestyle that I live each and every day… I find myself getting a little annoyed.

I’m one of those people Tanya Luhrmann describes in her article.  Believing in a God I can’t see never bothered me because I feel Him; I feel His presence in my life multiple times each day.  I’ve never thought about learning to “…identify bodily and emotional states as signs of God’s presence” in my life as something I learned…it just was.  It is true that through prayer and reading the Bible I’ve learned a lot about my walk of faith, but I don’t think that is any different than getting to know someone from afar…we email back and forth and we each learn more about each other, our expectations, disappointments, our history.

When I am in worship I feel His presence when we sing – it’s a feeling that is hard to describe but I certainly don’t think of it as supernatural, but reading the definition of trance, I would say that the song shift my focus internally.  Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions.at University of Missouri says “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences” (No God Spot 2012).  Johnstone goes on to describes “…it might be better to focus on the neuropsychological questions of self focus vs selfless focus. As Prof. Johnstone explains: “when the brain focuses less on the self (by decreased activity in the right lobe) it is by definition a moment of self-transcendence and can be understood as being connected to God or Nirvana. It is the sensation of feeling like you are part of a bigger thing”.

This article focuses on falling in love with Jesus and peace as constants in a Christian’s life; what she leaves out though is grace.  Grace is what God bestows on us that no matter how much we screw up, He’s there.  He doesn’t abandon us, He loves us and regardless of who we are or what we do, He is always there.  THAT is what makes my day!

So am I one that touts I am in love with Jesus – no.  Do I feel peace in my life because of Him?  Yes, I don’t worry about things because I know that ultimately He’s in charge.  But grace, that’s what I think sets Christianity apart from other religions.  I believe in a God that hangs in there with me, died for me and rose again – I don’t read about other God’s coming back from the dead; not reincarnation; Jesus didn’t come back as a frog, fish, cat or even another person, he came back as himself.

I’m not hallucinating, nor having out of body experiences.  I DO feel His presence in music and feel He directs me through the Bible and through our conversations.   It’s a great way to live!

Luhrmann, Tayna.  “Metakinesis: How God become Intimate in Contemporary US Christianity”.

          American Anthropologist.  106 (3) : 2004.  pg518-28. Print.  24 May 2013.

“No ‘God Spot’ In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe”.  Religion – Huffington Post.  20 Apr

           2012.  Web.  23 May 2013.

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Hallelujah Jesus!

King-David-dancing-before-the-Lord

             King David from the Old Testament in the Bible was the first Pentecostals, dancing and rejoicing before the Lord in his underwear (2 Samuel 6:14)!  Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t something new – the Holy Spirit actually chose men in the Old Testament other than David – The Spirit “came upon” such Old Testament people as Joshua (Numbers 27:18) and even Saul (1 Samuel 10:10).

In the book of Judges, the Spirit came upon the various judges that God raised up to deliver Israel from their oppressors. The Holy Spirit came upon these individuals for specific tasks. The indwelling was a sign of God’s favor upon that individual (in the case of David), and if God’s favor left an individual, the Spirit would depart (e.g., in Saul’s case in 1 Samuel 16:14). Finally, the Spirit “coming upon” an individual doesn’t always indicate that person’s spiritual condition (e.g., Saul, Samson, and many of the judges). So, while in the New Testament the Spirit only indwells believers and that indwelling is permanent, the Spirit came upon certain Old Testament individuals for a specific task, irrespective of their spiritual condition. Once the task was completed, the Spirit presumably departed from that person.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit isn’t a ghost but a personal force that teaches, guides, comforts and intercedes for believers.  The Christian who is indwelt by the Spirit is indwelt by God. (Moody)

I don’t think the film truly represents the Charismatic movement – there are many people that are filled with the Holy Spirit that worship in fundamental churches; the modern worship services I attend at Bellevue Presbyterian church is a Pente-Presbyterian church – people sing, raise their hands and at times, the Holy Spirit moves in someone and they may act different.  These same conservatives have had many healing ceremonies while on short term mission trips in other countries.  I think if you aren’t a Christian, you would think the entire worship service odd and make something much more of it than need be.

Pentecostalism and related charismatic movements represent one of the fastest-growing segments of global Christianity. At least 1/4 of the world’s 2 billion Christians are thought to be members of these lively, highly personal faiths, which emphasize such spiritually renewing “gifts of the Holy Spirit” as speaking in tongues, divine healing and prophesying. Even more than other Christians, pentecostals and other renewalists believe that God, acting through the Holy Spirit, continues to play a direct, active role in everyday life .  Pentecostalism, and its related “renewalist” or “spirit-filled” movements, was one of the most influential developments in global Christianity in the 20th century, and it is poised to have an even greater influence in the 21st century. Nowhere is this more evident than in the “global South,” where pentecostalism is reshaping the social, political and economic landscape of many countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia (Pew).

 Resources

Houdmann, Michael. “What was the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?”  Questions.org.  2010.  Web.  18 May 2013.

“The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”.  Moody Bible Institute.  Web.  18 May 2013.

Pentecostal Resource Page.  The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  5 Oct 2006.  Web. 18 May 2013.

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Medical and healing among the Southwest Tribes

Health and healing are among the most important concerns of Native American ritual. It is essential to understand the concept of health other than in the terms of Western medicine. Many Native American cultures understand illness not as the result of some biochemical, physiological, or psychological malady, but as a sign of disorder in society or the world, which is then reflected in the illness of an individual. Diagnosis thus consists of discerning the status of the community or the world. Healing requires repairing or restructuring these environmental concerns.

 From the Native American perspective, medicine is more about healing the person than curing a disease. Traditional healers aim to “make whole” by restoring well-being and harmonious relationships with the community and the spirit of nature, which is sometimes called God or the Great Mystery. Native American healing is based on the belief that everyone and everything on earth is interconnected, and every person, animal, and plant has a spirit or essence. Even an object, such as a river or rock, and even the earth itself, may be considered to have this kind of spirit.

 Native Americans traditionally believe that illness stems from spiritual problems. They also say that diseases are more likely to invade the body of a person who is imbalanced, has negative thinking, or lives an unhealthy lifestyle. Some Native American healers believe that inherited conditions, such as birth defects, are caused by the parents’ immoral lifestyles and are not easily treated. Others believe that such conditions reflect a touch from the Creator and may consider them a kind of gift. Native American healing practices aim to find and restore balance and wholeness in a person to restore one to a healthy and spiritually pure state.

 Some people believe Native American medicine can help cure physical diseases, injuries, and emotional problems. Some healers claim to have cured conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, skin rashes, asthma, and cancer, although studies don’t support these claims.

 There are many types of Native American healing practices, and they are promoted to help with a variety of ills. Some of the most common aspects of Native American healing include the use of herbal remedies, purifying rituals, shamanism, and symbolic healing rituals to treat illnesses of both the body and spirit. Herbal remedies are used to treat many physical conditions. Practitioners use purifying rituals to cleanse the body and prepare the person for healing. Shamanism is based on the idea that spirits cause illness, and a Native American healer called a shaman focuses on using spiritual healing powers to treat people. Symbolic healing rituals, which can involve family and friends of the sick person, are used to invoke the spirits to help heal the sick person.

 One clinical trial examined 116 people with a variety of ailments (such as infertility, chest and back pain, asthma, depression, diabetes, and cancer) who were treated with traditional Native American healing. More than 80% showed some benefit after a 7 to 28 day intensive healing experience. Five years later, 50 of the original participants said they were cured of their diseases, while another 41 said they felt better. Another 9 reported no change, 5 were worse, and 2 had died. However, the comparison group who received different treatments also showed benefits, and the patients’ reports were not verified by doctors.  Although Native American healing has not been proven to cure disease, individual reports suggest that it can reduce pain and stress and improve quality of life. The communal and spiritual support provided by this type of healing could have helpful effects. Prayers, introspection, and meditation can be calming and can help to reduce stress.

 Because Native American healing is based on spirituality, there are very few scientific studies to support the validity of the practices. It is hard to study Native American healing in a scientific way because practices differ between various Nations, healers, and illnesses. Many Native Americans do not want their practices studied because they believe sharing such information exploits their culture and weakens their power to heal. Historically, outside society has sometimes misinterpreted Native American culture and beliefs, which may increase this reluctance.

 Resources

Mehl-Medrona LE.   “Native American medicine in the treatment of chronic illness: developing an integrated program and evaluating its effectiveness”.   Alternative Health Medicine.   5 (1999) :36-44.  Web.  17 May 2013.

 “Native American Healing”.  American Cancer Society.  Web.  17 May 2013.

 Sheridan, Thomas and Nancy Parezo.  Paths of Life:  American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press.  1996.  Print.

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