My best travel tip? Always keep an open mind in trip-planning. Sometimes our favorite adventures are things we discover along the way.
On a Southwest Airlines flight to New York City in March, Sam opened the inflight magazine straight to the puzzle page and found this note from a previous passenger. I was charmed and took a photo, but didn’t know until later that there was serendipitous magic afoot, working to set a theme for our trip.
Archie, pig enthusiast, wishes us a wonderful life. Thank you, Archie.
I didn’t think about this note again until the next day, when we got to the Guggenheim. Here’s what reminded me –
Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai – 1891 – Detail (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)
What? Gaughin? Pigs? I must have seen this painting many times, but it was never so memorable before. Backing up for the long view –
Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai (Guggenheim Museum, NYC)
At the Metropolitan Museum show Age of Empires, Chinese Art from the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C – A.D. 220) we found these ancient porkers–
Two Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C – A.D. 9). Stone pigs, symbolizing wealth, were placed in tombs in the hands of the dead.
The next pigs-in-show were photo bombed by a chicken –
Pair of Pigs, Western Han Dynasty (206-B.C. – A.D. 9). Earthenware with pigment. Yangling Mausoleum.
While Sam worked the puzzle page during our flight, I was reading a New York Times review of an exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center and Museum: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD. We’d never been to Onassis Center, and made a note to go. Now it’s definitely on our list for future trips.
Not long after we walked in, we discovered that even classical antiquity could be home to serious pig-enthusiasm.
Funerary Stele for a Lovable Pig, Victim of a Traffic Accident, 2nd-3rd century AD, Marble, Edessa, site of Longos, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella, AKA 1674. Photography Orestis Kourakis.
“Here lies the pig, beloved by all, a young quadruped. I left the land of Dalmatia, when I was given as a gift. I reached Dyrrachion and yearned for Apollonian. I crossed every land with my own feet, alone undefeated. But now I have left the light because of the violence of wheels. I wished to see Emathie and the wagon of the phallus, but now here I rest, although I was too young to pay my tribute to death.” Pella, Ephorate of Antiquities.
In the words of another (famous) pig enthusiast, this must have been “some pig”.
I was prepared for gods and mortals, love, anger, and courage, envy, and the range of human emotions we know throughout history and mythology. What I didn’t foresee were the many touching tributes to animals. Dogs, geese (“Aphrodite’s sacred bird and a symbol of weddings”), and of course, the lovable pig. It reminded me of how far we’re removed from nature in our modern lives.
Sam wondered if the pig had a name, and if so, whether it was lost to the centuries or part of the original inscription but not translated. For synchronicity’s sake, we’d like to think its name was ‘Archie’.
More on the past weekly photo challenge: Wanderlust
More on the Onassis Cultural Center and the World of Emotions Exhibition