Friday Feature: Cave Crafts pottery

Cave Crafts is based in Hull but I’ve seen them recently at the Lincoln Makers Markets. Their pottery is based on ancient and Medieval designs, ranging from prehistoric-inspired pieces to Medieval, Norse and now (excitingly for me!) Ancient Egyptian pieces.

Cave Crafts was started by Andrew Ketley in 2014 as an outlet for his pottery creations and related services.
Andrew has been a lifelong maker and designer of things, starting, as many have before, with Airfix model kits and scrap wood. These days he produces highly individual thrown pottery in his workshop in East Yorkshire, England, also offering tuition on the wheel. He can be found at various festivals during the summer months, offering sales and ‘hands on’ sessions to festival goers – to date, Andrew estimates that he’s led over 500 individual sessions, with each of them resulting in a worthwhile piece – “Everyone has an innate drive and ability to create – teaching pottery throwing has shown me that the trick is to find the individual key to unlock it and then to give it direction”.
Andrew’s main inspiration for his pottery has been a childhood interest in the occult and a natural sympathy for ‘otherness’, together with his discovery of medieval pottery designs, but underneath all of this is his love for the natural world and its materials.

– from the Cave Crafts website

I’m lucky enough to see the pieces first hand at the Makers Markets but you can also find them on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/cavecraftshandmade
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CaveCraftsHandmade
Website: https://www.cavecraftshandmade.co.uk/

Anyhow, here are some pics of Cave Crafts’ wares!

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I love these quirky guys too:

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The Egyptian pieces are new, and I was told there will be more designs forthcoming. Look at those Bes jars! I haven’t seen anything else like them and think they’re wonderful.

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As a lover of all things Egyptian, but especially anything Amarna-related I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful lotus pattern pot… it makes a lovely tealight holder for my altar. As you can see, it gives out a lovely ambient light in the evening. I can thoroughly recommend Cave Crafts as the pieces are high quality, handmade and really rather beautiful.

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*Note: I have not received anything to write this post. I love spreading the word for handmade and small-scale artisans, artists and creators.

Michelle G, Tamarisk, 2018

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National Insect Week – The Symbolism of Flies

This week is National Insect Week, and to celebrate our buggy friends I’ve decided to muse about flies… partly because of the links to Loki, and also because of their sacred symbolism in Ancient Egypt.

Many people have seen pictures of golden fly amulets and necklaces and wondered, “Why?” From a human perspective flies can seem annoying, they spread germs and diseases, and they multiply quickly. Let’s now turn this around and try to see it from a mindset the Ancient Egyptians were familiar with: symbolism and sympathetic magic.

If viewed from this perspective the fly becomes persistent and tenacious rather than annoying. As anyone who has ever dealt with them knows, flies don’t give up! They keep trying, going for what they’ve set their tiny fly-hearts on, no matter what obstacles (or fly swatters) they come up against. They are tenacious little creatures, and sometimes we too need that kind of attitude.

Flies also breed in large numbers, so from a sympathetic magic viewpoint the fly could be a very useful motif to draw upon. Fertility, in various aspects, was something the Ancient Egyptians valued so emulating the abundant fertility of the fly by wearing a fly amulet isn’t too far a leap of the imagination.

Flies also spread disease and perhaps, as with Sekhmet, their amulets were worn to try to curry favour, stave off illness, and act as a protective symbol. Flies also swarm on the dead, and it is not unreasonable to reason that they may well have a ‘death’ element to their symbolism. They are drawn to rotting substances and ‘feed’ on death in that manner too.

On a more modern level of symbolism flies as scavengers can also represent those who seek relentlessly to make what they can of the opportunities that present themselves. Flies are the ultimate opportunists. No matter how many times they’re wafted off (or chased away) they keep trying to get to what they want. Sometimes this is perfectly good stuff, but other times they’re literally feeding off poo. And this teaches us something: sometimes even the messy, s*** stuff in our lives can become fuel for our future Self.

If we tie in their fertility as well then we gain a picture of a creature relentless in the pursuit of its goals, able to turn even the rubbish times into future nourishment, and able to keep producing and creating ‘life’. We could learn a thing or two from Fly, if we’re willing to look from a more symbolic, sympathetic magic, Ancient Egyptian type of perspective.

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See also: Flies, Cats and Rat Traps: The Ordinary Animals of Ancient Egypt by Anna Garnett, Curator of the Petrie Museum –http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/2017/11/15/flies-cats-and-rat-traps-the-ordinary-animals-of-ancient-egypt/

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

Shared: Tattooing in Ancient Nubia by Nile Scribes

This is an interesting read for anyone interested in Ancient Egyptian and Nubian history, as well as those interested in tattoos in general. The article is short but talks about different styles, symbolism, tools and pigments used.

Egyptologists previously believed that tattoos carried a fertility or erotic significance and applied only to women in ancient Egypt — a belief that is now challenged by these new findings. Friedman points out that the wild bull was a symbol of male potency in ancient Egypt… They suggest that ‘Gebelein Woman’s’ tattoos, on the other hand, may indicate “ceremonial or ritual” involvement based on their similarities to motifs on Predynastic ceramics, figurines, and a tattoo from the late New Kingdom (1,539-1,077 BC).

You can read the full article here:
http://nilescribes.org/2018/03/10/scribal-spotlight-tattooing-in-ancient-nubia/

Shared article: Statues of ancient Egyptian lioness deity Sekhmet uncovered in Luxor

Shared from Ahram Online. Article written by  Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 3 Dec 2017

A collection of 27 fragmented statues of the lioness goddess Sekhmet has been uncovered during excavation work at the King Amenhotep III funerary temple at the Kom El-Hettan area on Luxor’s west bank.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the black-granite statues have a maximum height of about two metres. Some statues depict Sekhmet sitting on a throne, holding the symbol of life in her left hand, while others show her standing and holding a papyrus sceptre before her chest. The head of Sekhmet is crowned with a sun-disk, while a uraeus adorns her forehead.

The mission began excavation work in 1998, and about 287 statues of Sekhmet have been unearthed since then.

You can read the full article here: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/282656.aspx

Focus on Ancient Egyptian Goddesses Nekhbet & Mut for International Vulture Awareness Day 2017 – 

IVAD logo 2014

Did you know that today is International Vulture Awareness Day? Many of these beautiful birds are now threatened or facing extinction, and population numbers are declining the world over. The Egyptian Vulture, which was known in Ancient Egypt, is on the endangered list. The Griffon Vulture, also known in Ancient Egypt, is the only one on the list that is of ‘least concern’.

Click here to reveal more about Vulture Awareness Day!

The first Saturday of September every year is International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). Started in 2006 by the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Birds of Prey Programme and the Hawk Conservancy Trust, plus a range of partners and associates, IVAD has become a global event supported by the IUCN SSC Vulture Specialist Group; in 2016, 164 organisations from 47 countries participated. IVAD aims to create awareness about vultures as a whole, garner support among the public about the plight of vultures globally and highlight the work done by conservationists to protect these birds and their habitats.

Vultures are a characteristic, distinctive and spectacular component of the biodiversity of the environments they inhabit. They also provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses and other organic waste in the environment; they are nature’s garbage collectors and this translates into significant economic benefits. Studies have shown that in areas where there are no vultures, carcasses take up to three or four times longer to decompose. This has huge implications for the spread of diseases in both wild and domestic animals, as well as elevating pathogenic risks to humans.

http://www.vultureday.org/action/

You can find more information on the International Vulture Awareness Day website
They have kids activities and also colouring pages of different vultures on their downloads page, and you can also download this cute ‘Vultures of the World’ PDF

vulture of the world

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Two species of vulture were known in Ancient Egypt – the Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). The Griffon vulture is the one most commonly depicted. On its own it represents the phonetic value of A, and was used to write the word mut, meaning ‘mother’. With the largest wingspan of any bird in Ancient Egypt the outspread wings of the vulture were seen as offering protection¹, and became a popular motif in Egytian art and jewellery. As vulture Goddesses Nekhbet and Mut became symbols of maternal love and protection. In the Late Period the vulture was: ‘…a symbol of the female principle and stood in juxtaposition to the beetle as the embodiment of the male principle.’²
The vulture headdress was seen as a ‘symbol and ideogram of motherhood’³ and also associated any Queen who wore it with Mut as consort of the state God, Amun, and also with Nekhbet as protectress of Upper Egypt¹.

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