carve it on my tomb stone

GM: “Inside the tomb there is a stone carving of a skeleton. Coming out if it’s ribs is a T shaped handle sticking up, kind of like a old TNT plunger.”

AMORY: “I push it.”

GM: “It doesn’t move.”

AMORY: “I pull it.”

GM: “It doesn’t move.”

AMORY: “I twist it.”

GM: “It turns and there’s a click at the door on the far wall.”

AMORY: “I bop it.”

(whole tables loses it)

Glorious Gems of MP - Tansen, the magical musician of Gwalior

Muhammad Ghaus (or Ghawth) was a 16th century Sufi saint and teacher of the Mughal emperor Humayun. As soon as we reached his tomb, I stood gazing at this marvelous 16th century Mughal architecture originally built by Akbar. Architecturally it is a square base with hexagonal towers mounted with domes at its corners.

It is covered on all sides with beautiful carved stone lattices. There are about 36-37 different intricate patterns and they are so fine, one can gaze at them till eternity.

When admiring the lattices, my eyes fell upon beautiful coloured threads that were tied around the tomb. It is believed that, people who visit this place and tie a knot with colourful threads get their prayers answered. I quickly went to a lattice, tied a thread and prayed with a lot hope and excitement!

The pleasant surprise was when I came to know that also buried in the same mausoleum complex is the great Miyaan Tansen, who drew Sufi influences in his music from Mohammad Ghaus. There’s probably not a single musical soul who hasn’t heard the name of Tansen. Although, what most do not know is that Ghaus was a very important mentor for Tansen.

Tansen was born in Gwalior and hence it is also known as Sangeet ki Nagri (the city of music). Born in a Hindu family, he started his career in the court of King Ram Chand of Gwalior. But Tansen’s music transcended all the barriers of religion, landing him to King Akbar’s court where he was considered one of the Navratnas (Nine Jewels). Tansen is widely considered as the founder of Hindustani classical music as we know it. After his death, he was buried according to Muslim customs by Akbar.

Tansen Samaroh, a national musical fest, happens every year near his tomb. Started in 1985 by the Scindia’s, this festival is held in the memory of Tansen. In this grand extravaganza, many renowned classical singers from all across the country come and deliver powerful performances, building a beautiful and a serene atmosphere, just the way it would have been in Akbar’s time.

Standing in front of the tomb took me back to my childhood and the wonderful legends that I had heard about Tansen from my father. His music is said to have resonated with everyone - from men and women to even animals and birds. Popular legend it that he once sang Raag Deepak (Song of Fire) in the court and the wicks of lamps burst into flame by the sheer power of his voice. And everyone knows that when Tansen sang the Raag Megh Malhar (Song of Rain), it actually rained that day.

Akbar was very fond of Tansen! So much so that once Akbar wanted to ride an elephant but it wasn’t tamed and nobody was unable to control him. Tansen sang to the elephant to calm him down after which the Emperor rode the elephant with utmost ease.

Near the tomb there is a renowned Tamarind tree and my guide said that chewing the leaves of this particular tree makes our voice sweeter to hear. I had to obviously take a few and ruminate on them with an incredible sense of childlike wonder, a wonder about magical tales like these that make our history so rich and popular. And so I chewed on a few leaves and hummed a tune. My guide Puneet ji felt that there was a remarkable transformation in my voice. But of course he was indulging me!

Indian classical music has deep rooted oneness with nature itself.  For a few seconds, I wished I was there in the court of Tansen to actually witness this magic for real. I started daydreaming of the day when he sang Raag Megh Malhar - peacocks dancing in the rain the raindrops trickling through the exteriors of the magnificent structure and the courtiers mesmerised by the rhythm of the Raag. And amidst the beautiful flowers in the garden, I was, swirling around, looking up at the sky, letting the raindrops fall on my face. Alas, it was all but a distant dream.

About the artist 

Neethi Goldhawk is an independent illustrator and textile print designer who loves drawing all things dreamy, inspired by nature and life. She has illustrated for platforms like Redbull Amaphiko and Launchora. Her pen name (Goldhawk) was concocted in the crowded space of her mind full of absurd characters, who are but little children at heart. She is an avid Tumblr blogger and can be found here

By Neethi Goldhawk

“there is no creature crueler than a teenage girl.”
this, my father told me.
as we discussed my sister’s severance from her best friend of three years.
as we spoke of how they can be petty, of how they can be jealous, of how they set their grudges in stone.

“there’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.”
this, Megan Abbott wrote.
and we adopted it as a sort of mantra.
as we spoke of bubblegum in hair, of lighters at quick fingers, of catfights and catcalls and ever charming claws.

“there’s nothing more broken or more unbreakable than teenage girls.”
this, I told myself. this, I tried to tell the world. this, I want carved on my tomb.

they’re a glamor. they’re a pretty painted house with a cracked foundation. they’re best friends sewing broken hearts back together again.

teenage girls are restless fingers. teenage girls are wandering hands and searching eyes. they’re too tight hugs and too short skirts and too much of nothing to do.

they’ve broken themselves so you never can. they’ve taken themselves apart over and over, but when they put the pieces back together again they never fit quite the same. and teenage girls aren’t sure they want them to.

—  welcome to broken mirrors and lipgloss, and the girls with knives for nails // by kt //
Basilica of Saint-Denis

Our visit to Saint Denis Basilica was incredible. Never in my life had I seen such amazing stained glass windows with vibrant shades of blue and red spanning over such a large area. The stonework above the entrances was very intricate, and the craftsmanship and skill required to build such an artwork were unfathomable. 

Upon entering the basilica you are greeted with the burial sites of dozens of members of royalty and nobility. Their tombs are carved from stone, and the faces of the sculptures are as lifelike as a carving can be. What stood out to me was the resting place of King Louis XII. The stonework was elaborately carved from marble, depicting King Louis XII with Anne de Bretagne surrounded by the twelve apostles and four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Might, Justice, and Temperance. 

Louis XII became the king of France in 1498, and during his time of kingship, he led the French to many defeats against the Italians. However, he remained popular because of his policies which protected the lower class from injustice. He also prevented civil war within his country and was capable of financing war without further increasing taxes. King Louis XII died an unfortunate death on January 1st, 1515 after a jousting incident resulted in a piece of wood punching through his eye, resulting in fatal brain damage. 

After visiting the Basilica of Saint Denis, it became apparent that religion and royalty were very powerful forces, as the care taken in the preparation of a facility such as this is mind blowing. 

4

Just ahead of Valentine’s Day, we visited the tomb of a poet who wrote often of love.

The 14th century Persian poet Hafez is buried in Shiraz, the city where he lived almost 700 years ago. He remains venerated in Iran, even though he wrote of romance and other topics that are not obviously embraced in the modern-day Islamic Republic.

One of his lines: “Oh Cup-bearer, set my glass afire with the light of wine!”

We reached the tomb of Hafez — the pen name for the man born Khwaja Shamsuddīn Muhammad Hafez e-Shirazi — at the end of the day. The setting sun still shone on the mountainsides just beyond a courtyard. The poet’s tomb is at the center, beneath a roof held up by pillars.

People placed their hands on the carved stone. One was a woman wearing loose black clothes, a purple knitted cap and a Wilson-brand backpack. She kept her hands there, both of them, for what seemed like several minutes.

Afterward, we asked her what she was doing.

“It’s really a thing of my heart,” she said. “I think you have to connect with him to understand what happened with us, between us.”

Firoozeh Mohammad-Zamani said that when her hands were on the tomb, she was having a conversation with Hafez. They talk a lot.

In Iran, A Poet’s 700-Year-Old Verses Still Set Hearts Aflame

Photos: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images and Steve Inskeep/NPR

If the word got out about what the tablet could do it would set off such a crisis in the academic world, and I’m not even talking about the microbiologists and doctors and everything who have fits at the fact that apparently the ancient Egyptians figured out fucking NECROMANCY and ANIMATION OF INANIMATE OBJECTS when we can’t even figure out the common cold.

I mean, can you imagine the controversies settled, the questions that could be answered if you could talk to an actual Pharaoh or an actual General or Teddy Roosevelt and ask questions of them? We could actually learn what Ancient Egyptian really sounded like rather than just giving it a good guess, could hear their myths firsthand, know how they engineered and calculated and did everything and we could find out what colour everything was painted and oh my God I want to interrogate Ahk so badly.

Historians and anthropologists and archaeologists would go apeshit. Forget the political consequences and scientists and neopagans and international issues Ahk’s existence could potentially cause(though those are amazing too and I love them), give me the academics camping outside the Museum to question Ahk about the compositions of medicines, the methods used to carve stone, how their settlements worked and were organized, what the food tasted like, what things smelled like and sounded like, hell he might be able to tell archeologists where previously undiscovered tombs are!

Give me all the historians questioning the exhibits.

2

GRAPHIC INSPIRED BY LAY ME DOWN

They lay quietly as the grass stirs around them, following the wind.

“Imagine, if we died right here, right now. Peacefully, like we’d just fallen asleep. The moss would be our pillow and the grass would fold over us like furs. And the worms would come out of the dirt and wriggle across our skin, making new homes…

I don’t know how people die peaceful, though, I’ve never seen it. I bet we’d feel it for a while - the worms and later the insects that hover and bite. And we would want to swat them, but we’d be laying tired, so we’d let them. Heartbeats going slow as we lay for hours and hours… We’d become flowers, scare all the farmer’s sheep come to eat our grass. We’d see every sunset, every sunrise, and we wouldn’t move until someone comes to work the land. How long would it take, do you think, for us to be found?”

“Couple of minutes? Soon as suppers cooked.”

“I think they’d cry if they found us (…) And what if we weren’t with the Brotherhood? What if it was just us. How long?”

“I don’t know. How long does it take for a corpse to smell?”

“Probably a week, if this weather keeps up. We would bake in the sun, but our dead skin would stay pale and cold, and all matter of life would come and smell and lick and taste us. The insects and the foxes and the wolves- And once the ravens got real loud fighting over us, someone would come see what’d died. But if we were to freeze - I mean, there’s always the possibility that a shadow cat would come gnaw an arm off - but if the snow fell and we turned to ice, how long would it take? Ten years? Thirty years? Till winter ends and the snow melts and our great grandchildren find us here?

I think it would be nice. Just to lay together forever. If I were to die and be buried somewhere, I’d want you to be buried nearby.”

If you were to die, though, and that’s very unlikely. I’d want to be buried nearby, too.” Though he’d seen a crypt tomb before, of a lady and her knight, carved out in stone, hands linked and loving for all ever; and he thinks it wouldn’t be terrible.

6

“It was said that Thor could only wield Mjolnir by wearing a special pair of iron gauntlets. The gauntlet I discovered in Niflheim could very well be the source of this myth. Most of the gauntlet itself crumbled to the touch, but the carved knot of stone and metal in its center was undamaged by age. It extended metal tendrils and conformed to the dimensions of my hand perfectly. Clearly this is the ancient source of power of the artifact and the rest of the gauntlet was added separately later.”

Tomb Raider Underworld

“Andrei Codrescu, the poet, was depressed when one of his books came out. Why? I asked him. Because books are tombs, he said. Once a book is written, it is only a marker of where language had once been alive. That is why Mallarmé called so many of his poems ‘tombeaus.’  They are tombs of pure language. Non-language, the unconditional, has left these tombs behind as monuments. Once a spirit passed through here, the words seem to say, but now only, çi-git, here lies

It follows that the proper etiquette for reading poetry is learned by visiting graves. Many poets have stood before Apollinaire’s tomb at Père Lachaise and read the calligramme carved on the stone: Mon coeur comme une flamme renversée. My heart like an upside down flame.

What is the proper feeling to bring to the graveyard, and to the poem? One must again turn the flame upside down. […] Turning the flame upside down turns the heart right-side up. It puts the flame inside the heart. It puts disturbance back inside the language, the disturbance of the reader’s confusion beating inside the dead language of the writer. Then, for a moment, the flame will seem to flicker, ‘a disturbance of words within words.’”

Rodger Kamenetz, from Terra Infirma (University of Arkansas Press, 1985)

2

Final sentences:

And wise Uncle Venner, passing slowly from the ruinous porch, seemed to hear a strain of music, and fancied that sweet Alice Pyncheon—after witnessing these deeds, this bygone woe and this present happiness, of her kindred mortals—had given one farewell touch of a spirit’s joy upon her harpsichord, as she floated heavenward from the House of the Seven Gables!

from The House of Seven Gables

[‘No, my good friend Robin, not to-night, at least,’ said the gentleman. ‘Some few days hence, if you continue to wish it, I will speed you on your journey.] Or, if you prefer to remain with us, perhaps, as you are a shrewd youth, you may rise in the world, without the help of your kinsman, Major Molineux.

from “My Kinsman, Major Molineux

And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave, a hoary corpse followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grand-children, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tomb-stone; for his dying hour was gloom.

from “Young Goodman Brown

Yeah we are at the point where I am taking Damien and DOING WHAT I WANT. YOU CAN’T STOP ME

5

Decorative elements to be found in Ottoman Tombstones…

Tomstones, Mausoleum of Suleyman the Magnificent, 1566 

I took these photographs when I was in search of ideas for my manuscript illuminations. Ottoman tombstones are renowned for their intricate oramentation. The same decorative elements present in stone or wood carvings would also be applied to manuscripts, tile and ceiling designs as well as textiles. 

These tombs are located in the garden of Suleyman the Magnificent’s mausoleum (which can be seen in the background of photo 3) Unfortunately, I am not sure of their dates exactly since at the time I was only searching for visual elements.