The ankh, featured on this necklace from innergifts.com, is an ancient religious symbol. Its meaning varies depending on its context. In ancient Egyptian religion, it often appears in contexts in which the bearer has the power to give or to take life, such as in the hands of a pharoah, queen or god. Over the centuries the ankh has been used as a symbol of life in diverse religious communities from Christian to New Age--and even in even in the cult science fiction movie Logan's Run, where it represented the prospect (however futile) of life after 30.
Jeff Trexler: December 2005 Archives
The New York Times has an informative article today on purity and chastity rings. This rings, designed to promote sexual abstinence before marriage, have become increasingly popular among evangelical & Catholic youth and adult singles.
One of the movements featured prominently in the Times article is Silver Ring Thing, which holds events in Christian performers promote abstinence. For more information on SRT, check out their website. Of course, there are also vocal critics of this movement, and the religious element of its school programs has made it the subject of an ACLU lawsuit.
Whether you're a fan and critic, these rings are a great example of religious jewelry as an extension of personal identity. For examples, check out the websites in the Times article or click on the banner below:
Now the Blessed One set the wheel of the most excellent law rolling, and he began to preach to the five bhikkhus, opening to them the gate of immortality, and showing them the bliss of Nirvana.
The Buddha said:
"The spokes of the wheel are the rules of pure conduct: justice is the uniformity of their length, wisdom is the tire; modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which the immovable axle of truth is fixed.
Tthe Wheel of Law has become a standard symbol in Buddhist iconography, with the eight spokes representing the Eightfold Path toward the end of suffering. The Dharmachakra pendant pictured here is a nice example of the genre, and it is one of several available from exoticindiaart.com.
Want to learn more about Buddhism? Why not start with the writings of America's first Tibetan Buddhist monk, AKA Uma Thurman's dad--Columbia religion professor Robert Thurman.
"The spirit of that entire building is embodied in that head."
Today's Wall Street Journal has a touching article on religious art scattered by Hurricane Katrina. People are picking up fragments and shards, placing them in their homes & saving them for the future.
This is far from unique to New Orleans. Decades ago, the Soviets shut down & looted hundreds of Orthodox Churches, yet you could find pieces of religious art held sacred in homes everywhere. Sacred icons. Candle holders. A triptych. A gold crucifix.
Religious art, like jewelry, is an expression of our sense of being something more--more than just physical, more than merely subject to the whims of natural forces beyond our control. After a disaster these objects can have an even stronger force. Amidst the chaos we find objects that still have meaning, even after being ripped from place and broken into pieces. Pattern persists beyond random destruction--some may call this superstition, but it is also profoundly human.
Although most popularly associated with West's song "Jesus Walks," the Jesus Head Medallion becomes a more ambiguous and troubling figure in West's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." In this song West describes his response to learning about "conflict diamonds," diamonds sold to fund war. Here's a key quote:
I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless
'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless
For more information, check out Bling Bling: Hip Hop's Crown Jewels, by Minya Oh.
As you may have notice, reloading this page gives you another randomly selected image of bling in the header. Pretty neat, huh? Pretty soon, clicking on any header will take you right to an entry with a few basic details about the item in question, plus a link to the merchant or info-site where I found the link. For the first few days this site is in operation, however, some of the links will take you only to the merchant.
The Wall Street Journal has an article on a rising fashion trend: bling for men. Turns out that sales of men's jewelry are (relatively) booming--"Once considered a fringe market for rockers, rappers, gay men and gangsters, men's jewelry is inching toward the mainstream." Worth a read, but wish the reprint had kept the photo of the big gold cross emblazoned on the WSJ's print version.