Curiosity Journal – Day 4


Since I currently live in France, the only alphabet I would see in my surroundings is the Latin alphabet. I find impressive the fact that this tool of communication, once created in Phoenicia, has now been spread worldwide. Indeed, when compared to the size of the planet, the area that was then known by “Phoenicia” is incredibly small.

Being too used to frequenting this alphabet, I was surprised by seeing this jewelry that reminded me of the culture I grew up with. Besides its majestic golden patterns and the precious materials it has been crafted with, the power of symbols that was dwelling in this precious structure grasped my attention. On the right side of the object, I could recognize an Arabic calligraphy. However, I was unable to read it. After many attempts. I could barely recognize the letter ك. Strangely, this calligraphy would more appear to me as a Scottish pipe rather than a set of letters that belong to a language that I’ve been learning for 13 years, at least.

I have always been wondering about how foreign societies, who are unfamiliar with the Arabic alphabet, would see the letters separately or combined together into a word. Having this jewelry in my sight made me experience their situation. Similarly, is it possible to see nothing? To be more precise, can our vision be limited to a set of differently oriented lines when reading foreign letters? For the first time ever, I questioned the illusionary power of letters. From now, I would consider them as symbols. This made me recall my experience with Chinese letters. I would see them as tiny houses or robots head. Also, are calligraphies meant to deflect our vision?

Underneath the calligraphy, I could see a pattern that people who are unfamiliar with the Arabic language would associate to an Arabic letter. In fact, what struck me is that the pattern that isn’t a letter, perhaps results of the combination of three Arabic letters together: پ, ن, and  ت. In my state of confusion, I asked myself: was this brooch worn by people belonging to a specific sect? A specific social rank? A specific gender? The pharaoh’s head gave me the same impression; the way the jewelry is made doesn’t seem to belong to an era when the pharaohs owned the kingdom of Egypt.


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