Tag Archives: travel jewelry

The colour of Autumn in South Korea

A gingko biloba tree in Jeoju, South Korea

Autumn in Jeoju Hanuk Village, South Korea

Ahh … after spending 2 weeks breathing the polluted air along Old Silk Road route in North China, the autumn air here in South Korea felt so refreshingly good. Yeah … I am in Seoul right now enjoying the refreshing and crispy autumn air.

The last maple leaves

The last maple leaves

Currently spending my own sweet time here in Seoul after a hectic 7-days Crossing Bridges photography event covering Incheon to Gochang, Jeonju, Gyeonju, Chongnamdae and Seoul . The Crossing Bridges event is a yearly event organised by different asian country each year since 11 years ago. And this year the event was hosted by the Professional Photographers of Korea (PPK). 149 aspiring photographers from Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines got together for a photography trip shooting the colour of autumn around South Korea.

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The participant of Crossing Bridges-11 (this is not an official group photo for CB11)

My second time in South Korea and my first time participating in such event. Wohoo! It was a fun experience indeed whereby I can sleep, eat, talk and do just … photography. And the most important thing is I got to experience the real Korean culture and the Korean warm hospitality. Sleeping on the heated floor shared by 7 other photographers in a small room and sharing showers openly with each other … hmm it was kind of a new culture for me though, but I like it nevertheless.

So, I am sharing some of my photos here for my readers and most importantly for my own  autumn colour inspiration. I will post the rest of my photos in my Zenfolio and Flickr profile and you can always check it out there 🙂

A blend of yellow, golden orange, green and red colour

A blend of yellow, golden orange, green and red colour created a fiery look

I extended my stay here in Seoul for another 5 nights after the Crossing Bridges trip so that I could roam around the streets here and hunt for some inspirations (sounds cliche but well that is the truth). Walking around Myeondong street in Seoul enjoying the “beauty conscious” consumers crowding the street hunting for a magic moisturizer, cream, mask or a cosmetic surgery that can transform a woman into an angel … well, it can last me for a half an hour before I started feeling the emptiness inside my shell. Not my kind of place though so I opted for a strolled in Insandong street instead. I like Insandong street …Korean folk art and craft along the street, it felt more human than just a blank ‘flesh’. I am being poetic huh?

Talking about the mask … uhh I need to get my facial mask supply too from that Nature Republic shop down in Myeondong Street before I leave this city. Me being a hypocrite …to prove that I am still human after all lol.

Autumn in my heart ;-)

Autumn in my heart ;-). A pinky looking tree

Today I went for a jewelry hunting around Dongdaemun and Namdaemun market, the famous wholesale market in Seoul. I noticed that the Korean jewelry could be at its most minimalist design to the most extreme bling bling design. I saw a good 925 silver jewelry collection in Dongdaemun market and I bought 3 rings to fit my index, ring and pinky fingers … so much for a minimalist me huh?

A day at the park

A day at the park

The accessories and jewelry section in Namdaemun market are overwhelmingly big and full of all sort of bling bling design. From rings to necklaces, studs, earrings, bracelets, brooch to all sort of accessories but I don’t think GayaIzzah.com needed those bling bling accessories yet. Maybe GayaIzzah.com need more silver rings to add into its jewelry collection. I still have time to check it out again tomorrow afternoon 😉

Fallen leaves

Fallen leaves at the drain

Thinking of going to Nami Island tomorrow morning to check on the trees there … lol I sounded like a real geek checking out trees. If I am lucky enough I might be able to shoot some interesting colours around there too. Hopefully I could wake up super early tomorrow to catch the earliest train to Nami Island … wow … wish me luck for tomorrow.

Autumn afternoon at the palace

An autumn afternoon at the Changgyeonggung Palace

Maple leaves

Maple leaves on the pathway

What did I get for myself during this trip? (apart from those silver rings)

Uhhh … I bought 2 sets of mini pottery jar with lid. A unique minimalist pottery jar with a touch of a Korean art, that could be used to store my daily jewellery … my unique jewellery jar.

Note: Updated on 13/11/04 : I love this olive colored ceramic jar more … here at home … compared to when it was on display at its previous home in the Pottery Village of Gyeongsang, South Korea. Gorgeous beautiful piece … loving this

Mini pottery jar from North Gyeongsang Pottery Village, South Korea

Mini pottery jar from North Gyeongsang Pottery Village, South Korea (updated on 13/11/04)

I have been on the road for almost a month now and started to miss my “home sweet home” … especially my bed, my children, my books, my breakfast buddies, my comfort food … my cat, my sandals … the list goes on and on … 🙂 … and my car key … etc lol

Cheers

MM


The colourful side of Whang-od from Buscalan, Kalinga

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Wang-od or Fang-od in-front of her house

I visited Whang-od or Fang-od of Buscalan, Kalinga in Philippine last year with my daughter and a group of photographer friends. Whang-od is the last Kalinga membantok or tattoo artist from Buscalan, Kalinga. I was not aware that she is quite well known among the tribal tattoo artist until I googled her. A small framed 95 years old woman with shy eyes and I can see that she has that colorful vibrant personality too. You can read details about Whang-od and her tattooing skill here at Lars Krutak: Tattoo Antropologist. And, if you enjoy street photography please feel free to browse through my Zenfolio gallery here at Street in North Luzon, Philippines for more photos of my journey there.

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The price that you have to pay for being famous … paparazzi 😉

It was not easy to reach her at her village. We started our approximately 4 hours journey to Buscalan, Kalinga from Segada via our cramped transport van. The road was narrow and winding but the view of the mountain was superb. I love mountains and greens … and more mountain … and … more more mountains, 😉 I know … this will never end.

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Heaven on earth mountain view

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Another superb God’s jewel taken from a moving van … noticed the panning effect? The driver refused to entertain my gazillion request for a quick stop to shot this view … thanx to my superb Nikon camera ( … Canon users please move aside 😉 )

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Our journey was delayed by 2 hours because of a landslide near Buscalan

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Temporary solution for the landslide problem

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The Buscalan village was located on the other side of the mountain and the only way to reach the village was through walking. It takes us around 1 hour of light trekking up and down the narrow slope of the mountain.

We spent one night at the village and the whole morning roaming around every corner of the village mingling around with the uncles, aunties and children there. The highlight event of the day was watching Whang-od at work, giving her tattoo services to a few of her willing customers. I used to feel fascinated by people with tattoos, maybe because previously tattoos were earned. The tattoo bearer’s (especially in a certain tribal group) were entitled to wear their tattoos as a medal of evidence to show life accomplishment  such as the act of bravery or courageousness or a rank within their community. In our modern world now, tattooing are more towards fashion statements or body art and anybody can wear tattoos according to their personal liking.

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Typical scene around the village

She and her jewelries

Whang-od at work

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My ‘colorful’ KGB friend Ruel posing with another Whang-od satisfied customer (Ruel, please PM me if u don’t want me to post your photo here 😉 )

Honestly, after half an hour of watching Whang-od carving on her customer’s skin while listening to the soft repetitive tapping sound of her needle, made me sleepy and my eyes started to wonder around my surroundings, hunting for interesting subject of colour to simulate my senses. Then, I noticed Whang-od’s  jewelry. Wow, such a stylish lady she was … with abundant glass beads necklaces hanging on her neck and her striking colored hair decoration. The beads were mostly glass beads mixed with a few ceramic beads. I was informed that most of the beads were family heirloom passed down by her ancestors. And, I noticed her earrings too, a pair of silver earring charm that symbolized good luck.

If I had known earlier that Whang-od loved beads then I would probably bring along some beads for her as a souvenir. A good tip for anyone who plan to visit her, bring along some gorgeous beads for her 🙂 and I bet she would love it for sure.

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Her hair decorations and her earring at full display

 

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It seemed that everybody here in the village preferred glass beads jewelry

To tell you the truth, glass bead has never been my kind of bead maybe because it looks a bit old fashion, heavy, fragile and most importantly man-made (I love natural stones). But, seeing Whang-od with her heirloom glass beads … hmmm makes me want to have my own unique glass beads collection too but trying to get hold of a one-of-a-kind glass bead here in Kuala Lumpur is not easy. Maybe I will get lucky and stumble upon them during my next visit to Xinjiang and Tashkurgan Country, China and yeah maybe I will share it here.

So, what did I get for myself during this trip? Yes!! … I bought my own Kalinga native silver charm as an addition to my treasure chest collection. Ruel told me that the shape represent ‘good luck’ by the Kalinga native. Super cool right? Up until today, I still can’t figure out how to wear this charm. Should I wear it as a pendant or should I just tie it to my leather bracelet?

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My own Kalinga native ‘good luck’ charm

 

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


Inspire me Africa …

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Earth tone necklace

I was in the middle of editing and organizing my 1000++ Ethiopian images when out of boredom I decided to create a necklace and a matching bracelet that will remind me of Ethiopia. Out of my remaining beads, I found some earth tone dyed agate, combined it with some colorful china seed beads and matched it with a rhodium plated steel pendant for my necklace. You can wear the necklace in 2 styles, remove the attached hook then you can wear it long (about 43cm diameter) or just wear it short like the picture shown above.

And, the same combo beads also goes to my Ethiopian inspired bracelet with some little brown agate gemstones tied together to the rhodium-plated steel toggle. Please check out Gayaizzah.com page and IG for details.

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Earth tone bracelet

Cheers,

MM

 

 

 


Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Wedding ceremony of Hamar people

Wedding celebration back at the village, celebrated by friends and family

I grew up believing that Utopia and Ethiopia is the same place. Had a rough childhood and I like the idea of living in Utopia where the community/ people were heavenly pleasant, even a little-lost child can roam freely without worries. In reality, Utopia and Ethiopia is a completely different opposite in every each way. I discovered that Ethiopia is an African country next to Somalia and famously portrayed as a poor, underdeveloped country and prone to experience famine, just like the rest of its neighboring African country. This country or any other African country has never been listed on my bucket list – of places that I need to visit before I die.

Out of curiosity (and my urge to try something different) I decided to join Photosafari Malaysia when they organised a trip to Ethiopia for the first time. Yup, it was an out of the world kind of experience and I ended up exploring Ethiopia twice (first trip covering Southern part and second trip covering Northern part). Ethiopia is geographically adventurous and Ethiopian are amazingly colourful people. A real eye-opener for the ignorant me and I had experienced my ‘advance’ humanity lesson here. Honestly, I need to write a 200-page book to be able to express everything that I had learned there. But, since my blog is about colour and jewellery then let us just stick to that 🙂

I was at Omo River Valley of Southwestern Ethiopia last year visiting a few ethnic people of Ethiopia like Karo, Hamar, Benna, Mursi and Dassecnech. The people of Hamar struck most of my attention probably because of the way they carried out themselves. They seemed to have the air and pride of a warrior. The same feelings that I felt while I was lingering around people of Afar from Danakil Depression, Northern Ethiopia. While hanging around with them at the market and their village, I noticed that male and female of Hamar people are very fashionable and colourful people. The choices of color on their jewelry were strikingly matched their skin colour. Their jewelry and accessories were either made of African seed beads or metal (like brass, copper and silver).

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to attend the famous Hamar Bull Jumping ceremony and a wedding celebration back in their village. Bull jumping or bull leaping ceremony is where a Hamar man has to successfully leap over a line of cattle in order for him to get married. It is an initiation right of passage to qualify him to get married, own cattle and have children. And, I managed to witness and captured a collection of photos of them with their full jewelry on display during both of the ceremonies. Images taken during my visit to the market, the Bull Jumping ceremony and during the wedding celebration are compiled into a gallery below. Detail description for each photo is included, click on each photo for full view and full description of the image.

There are great stories behind the Hamar’s unique fashion statement, you can visit Lars Krutak: Tattoo Anthropologist’s blog for details facts and stories. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my Zenfolio gallery: Colourful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

Before the Bull jumping ceremony started, women from the groom’s side need to endure a series of whipping on their flesh to prove their love towards their men. Honestly, it was not a very pleasant scene to witness. I was uncomfortable by the whipping sounds and seeing blood oozing out from a dangling flesh was not something that I want to share here. But you always can google for further information about the ceremony. The Hamer women are as fashionable as their men. If men can show off their brave accomplishment through their body scars and mud cap, women of Hamar have the same way to display their braveness and status to the public.

Other than body scarification, their fashion statement generally is based on their marital status (depending on whether they are married, engaged or single). Married women wear their hair with that muddy hairstyle called goscha, some kind of fat and special mud (ochre imported from African neighboring country like Kenya) blended together to create a wet-looking hair that they believed can attract their men. Married and engaged women of Hamer need to wear 2 neck rings around their neck, and an additional heavy neck ring called esente for the first wife of a Hamar man. Like their men, the jewelry and accessories for Hamar women are mostly made of  African seed beads and metals (either brass, copper or silver) too. Below are some images of the Hamar women with their jewelry. For a full view of these images in higher resolution, please visit my Zenfolio gallery: Colorful people of Ethiopia: The Hamar Tribe

I bought myself a bracelet during my second trip there, a simple metal bracelet just to remind myself that I survived the Danakil Depression (the hottest place on earth). We were at the Dalol of  Danakil Depression campsite when I saw Muhammad, a local Afar boy, wearing a bracelet that I kind of like and I ended up buying it from him for 300 bir.

Well, I know it was kind of expensive but I was desperately in need to reward myself for being able to endure the agony that I had to experience during my visit. A sweat agony indeed … love every moment I spent here in Ethiopia … alhamdullilah.

Thanks for reading.

A metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

The metal bracelet that I bought from Muhammad, an Afar boy from Dalol, Danakil Depression

 

Cheers

MM

ps: If you are interested to visit Ethiopia, I recommend you to contact my Ethiopian friend aka my local guide, Daniel Million and seek his advice to plan your trip. Please check him out at Traverse Ethiopia Tours


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