Sunday, October 28, 2012

Decorative handmade Celtic ceramic tiles

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Antique Scottish fireplace featuring thistle, Celtic knot and dragon tile insets.
Samhain, the end of the harvest season when the veil that lies between the spirit world and ours is thinnest marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year. Known as Halloween by most and Nos Calan Gaeaf in Wales, the eve of the first of winter. It marks the beginning of a new cycle. To the country folk it was the day to lead the livestock down from their summer pastures to the shelter of the stable for the dark half of the year. In early Ireland it was traditional for people to gather at their tribes ritual centers for the main feast of the year, giving thanks to the spirits that drew near for the harvest now safely preserved and stored for winter. Households would extinguish their hearth fires and await the lighting of the central new years fire, around which there was much feasting and ritual. At the end of the festivities, it was from this ceremonial fire that all the home fires of the tribe would be re-kindled and the ashes from it spread on the fields in blessing. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Decorative handmade ceramic Celtic horse tile

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6x6 relief carved, ceramic Celtic horse tile.
The Takhi horse of Mongolia is the last living subspecies of horse in the world. They diverged genetically from other horse breeds over 16,000 years ago and have remained relatively the same ever since. Because of this they have distinctly pre historic features, their appearance is unique among horses. The most significant difference between the Takhi, also known as Przewalskis horse, and domestic breeds is that they have 66 chromosomes, the most of any equine, all others have 64. Interbreeding between Takhi and domestic horses will produce fertile offspring with 65 chromosomes. Takhi's are also the last of the true wild horses on earth, at no point in their ancestry have they been successfully domesticated and all other horses we refer to as wild today are actually feral domesticated breeds. For the last century these rare and unique creatures have teetered on the edge of extinction. In 1960 there were only about 15 Takhi horses in zoo's and one small herd left in their native Mongolia. By 1970 the Mongolian herd had died off and they were declared 'extinct in the wild' The 'Foundation for preservation and protection of the Przewalski horse' was founded in 1977 and they along with the cooperation of several other organizations and zoos established breeding programs intended to increase the population of Takhi horses. After 15 years of careful line breeding a herd of 16 horses were released in Mongolia in 1992. They adapted well and more were released shortly after. Since then more herds have been successfully re introduced in other protected areas of Mongolia and the Gobi Dessert ecoregion. Today there are 300 Takhi horses in the wild and 1500 in zoos and breeding facilities, all descended from nine horses in the seventies. The Takhi horse's status has been changed from 'extinct in the wild' to 'critically endangered'.
By protecting the unique eco systems that these and other creatures need to survive we protect the diversity of our planet which all life needs to survive.