theSundaily.my Lifestyle http://www.thesundaily.my/sites/default/files/images/thesundaily_logo_google.png theSundaily.my Lifestyle http://www.thesundaily.my/rss/lifestyle http://www.thesundaily.my/rss/lifestyle en Learning to nap in New York, city that never sleeps http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/learning-nap-new-york-city-never-sleeps
But instead of knocking back a coffee or quaffing an energy drink, a growing number of New Yorkers are opting for a quick nap during office hours.

With affluent Americans, increasingly health-conscious — indulging in fads such as green juice, hot-house yoga and matcha tea — a few pay-for-sleep businesses are now offering customers a little shut-eye on the QT.

Nap York is one. Opening three months ago in a three-story building near Penn Station, US$12, (RM47) buys patrons 30 minutes in a wooden sleep cabin, day or night.

"We wanted to accommodate all the exhausted New Yorkers," explains Stacy Veloric, the company's marketing director. "It's really hard to find peace and quiet within New York City".

The business opened with seven cabins, but demand quickly exceeded supply and they added 22 more. Soon there will also be hammocks on the roof, where half an hour's kick-back will cost US$15.

The US sleep deficit is real. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of Americans sleep less than they should.

Only 24 percent of New Yorkers get eight or more hours of sleep — nearly half get six or less, according to a state-wide survey for Siena College.

Lack of sleep causes moodiness, low productivity and poor concentration. It also costs the US economy up to US$411 billion and the equivalent of 1.23 million working days a year, according to a Rand Corporation study in 2016.

'I'm worth it'

Laura Li, a 28-year-old copy editor for a travel company, is someone who prefers a 35-minute kip to a coffee. Each week she pops along to YeloSpa, a luxurious, spa-style Fifth Avenue fixture opposite Trump Tower.

Li steps into a hexagonal cockpit that looks straight out of a science fiction movie and lies on a bed suspended in a position of zero gravity, knees bent and feet elevated to lower the heart rate and induce sleep.

Thirty-five minutes later, she'll be woken by "a simulated sunrise," explains Maya Daskalova, YeloSpa manager.

The price? A dollar a minute, with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40.

"I come here especially on days where I have a lot of work — just to get more energy for the rest of the afternoon," says Li. "I don't drink coffee so if I feel tired there's nothing I can really do, other than sleeping".

She may not have told colleagues that she naps during lunch, but has confessed to friends, who are baffled by the concept of paying to sleep.

"They might think this is a waste of time or a waste of money," she admitted. "As long as I can afford it, then it's worth it. I just feel better afterwards, that's enough".

Daskalova has seen her clientele grow gradually and believes that cultural attitudes in America are changing. "Resetting you for the rest of the day is much better than crashing in your desk in the middle of work", she says.

Generational shift

Who escapes to take a nap? Those who work long hours or live miles away and want time out before a night out. Pregnant women who are exhausted. Parents of babies suffering sleepless nights and party-goers who need a breather.

In 2004, Christopher Lindholst created MetroNaps, a company that designs super-modern "energy pods" for quick naps.

He installed several in the Empire State Building until security requirements kicked them out, then focused sales on companies, universities, hospitals and airports. Google and Nasa are among those who have bought his pods.

"People's attitudes changed dramatically in the last 15 years, there's much more awareness of the importance of sleep and the benefit," Lindholst says.

But in a city with the longest working day in the States, travel time included, he thinks it will take a full generation to erase old stigmas about laziness.

"We use the argument all the time that we are talking about a very short period of time, 10 to 20 minutes, essentially the same (as) a coffee break or in New York a smoke break," he explained.

One MetroNaps capsule lives in the SoHo offices of Thrive Global, a wellness startup founded by Arianna Huffington, author of bestselling 2016 tome "The Sleep Revolution" and a founder of The Huffington Post.

Her book calls for an end to "the delusion that we need to burn out to succeed".

"We're in the middle of a cultural shift, one in which more and more of us are taking steps to reclaim sleep," she writes. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 04:31:10 +0000 theSundaily 549733 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Rare silk Koran helps preserve Afghanistan's cultural heritage http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/rare-silk-koran-helps-preserve-afghanistans-cultural-heritage
Each of the Islamic holy book's 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specialising in miniatures nearly two years to finish.

Bound in goat leather and weighing 8.6kg, the Koran was produced by Afghan artisans, many of them trained at British foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul.

"Our intention was to ensure that calligraphy does not die out in this country — writing is part of our culture," Khwaja Qamaruddin Chishti, a 66-year-old master calligrapher, told AFP in a cramped office inside Turquoise Mountain's labyrinthine mud-brick and wood-panelled complex.

With the Koran considered a sacred text, calligraphy is highly venerated in Islam and Islamic art.

"When it comes to art we cannot put a price on it. God has entrusted us with this work (the Koran) ... and this means more to us than the financial aspect," Chishti continued.

Using a bamboo or reed ink pen, Chishti and his fellow calligraphers spent up to two days carefully copying Koranic verses onto a single page — sometimes longer if they made a mistake and had to start again.

They used the Naskh script, a calligraphic style developed in early Islam to replace Kufic because it was easier to read and write.

The decoration around the script, known as illumination, was more time-consuming, each page taking more than a week to complete.

A team of artists used paint made from natural materials, including ground lapis, gold and bronze, to recreate the delicate patterns popular during the Timurid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries in the western city of Herat.

"All the colours we have used are from nature," Mohammad Tamim Sahibzada, a master miniature artist who was responsible for creating the vibrant colours used in the Koran, told AFP.

Sahibzada said working on silk fabric for the first time was challenging. The locally sourced material — all 305m of it — was treated in a solution made from the dried seeds of ispaghula, or psyllium, to stop the ink from spreading.

'Very rare'

Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy.

It hopes the silk Koran will generate demand for more handmade Islamic religious texts that could create employment for its artisans and help finance the institute.

"We will show it to other Islamic countries to see if it is possible to create job opportunities for graduates to work on another Koran," said Abdul Waheed Khalili, the organisation's Afghan director.

For now it will be kept in a specially made hand-carved walnut wooden box to protect its delicate pages from the elements at Turquoise Mountain's offices, which are in the restored Murad Khani, a historic commercial and residential area in Kabul's oldest district.

There Turquoise Mountain has trained thousands of artisans with the support of Britain's Prince Charles, the British Council, and USAID.

"The copying of the Koran onto silk is very rare," country director Nathan Stroupe told AFP.

He said the project has been "an amazing way to train our students at an incredibly high level in a very traditional type of work".

"If a Saudi prince or a book collector in London ... was interested in it, we would be thinking in the US$100,000, (RM397,500) to US$200,000 (price) range," he added. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 04:26:16 +0000 theSundaily 549729 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Posting success http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/posting-success
But for self-described Instagrammer Mohammad Zarnizar, travelling the world and documenting it is only half the perk.

The other half is being able to hone his photography skills, evident in his beautifully-curated feed on the social media platform.

“A blogger has a blog. An Instagrammer has Instagram. Influencers are sometimes on all platforms,” he explained about the unique term.

Like most people with an Instagram account, the 37-year-old – who is known to his followers simply as Zarnizar – started posting selfies, cat photos, and photos of outings with friends, way back in late 2011.

“Even minum petang Milo and everything, I would document on Instagram,” he quipped.

Zarnizar began to notice communities of like-minded people within the platform, who were similarly eager to share and learn experiences that would allow them to grow their niche on Instagram.

Soon, his connections extended beyond Malaysia, reaching people in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, and he decided to stick to posting travel and nature-inspired photographs.

When Zarnizar met up with fellow Instagrammers, they would discuss topics ranging from what type of postings each one did to the method of producing good photographs.

These Instameets or Instagram Meetings, occur worldwide and fortunately, you don’t need to have thousands of followers to participate in one.

According to the travel enthusiast, you simply have to look out for the posting on Instagram’s main account, adding that there are several communities that are always up-to-date in Malaysia.

“We have KL Mobilegraphy that concentrates on photography using only mobile phones; we have one for all the DSLR guys who do regular street-meets,” he explained.

Explaining how Instameet works, he said: “So one person will be like, okay, we’re having a meetup, at the end of this weekend in Bukit Bintang junction at 4pm, and people will DM (direct message) to say they want to join and repost to their followers.”

Zarnizar, who has always loved to travel and take photos, never thought something that started as a hobby would turn into a career. He only started seriously on Instagram in 2016, and has now amassed close to 25,000 followers.

He’s usually approached by airlines, hotels, foreign tourism departments, and even brands like Issey Miyake and Bad Lab (due to his creative shots) to promote products on the platform.

In fact, prior to this interview, he just returned from a 10-day stint in South Korea and two weeks in Turkey.

As lucrative as it is being an Instagrammer, Zarnizar admits he sometimes turns to lifestyle blogger and social media strategist Nor Azri Syahirah Mohd Sabri, who goes by the moniker Neyra Shazeyra, when clients ask for his rates.

“She’s good with managing other bloggers, so she’ll let me know how much I can earn with the quality I can offer.”

Despite photographing breathtaking destinations like Bali, Osaka, and Terengganu, he doesn’t consider himself a photographer.

“I started thinking I needed to improve my skills, in terms of editing my photos [and] how to take good photos.

“That’s why I don’t call myself a photographer, ’cause I’m still trying to improve my skills, still learning, still trying to explore this kind of art.”

Revealing a reliable travel tip that he constantly employs for location scouting, Zarnizar raves about the Instagram search feature, where he’ll look at postings based on the tagged location or hashtag.

“When I find one that I really like, I’ll go to their profile and DM them to ask for the exact location and how to get there.”

He adds that it’s a lot more effective compared to conventional search engines, as there is more direct communication with the person who’s actually been to the destination you want to visit.

“For Instagrammers, when they post something, it’s because they want to share with people.”]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 02:36:19 +0000 Marion Fernando 549672 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Kao’s time-saving solutions for parents http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/kao%E2%80%99s-time-saving-solutions-parents
“What we want to do is help modern families maximise the 24 hours in a day to spend more time capturing happy moments with their family,” said Kao Malaysia president Masaki Fujiwara.

Fujiwara (pix) was speaking at the launch of the campaign during a roadshow event at Sunway Pyramid in Bandar Sunway.

He added: “We do this by bringing them smarter ways to look after their homes and families, which leaves them with a better control of their time.”

Kao is offering better, easy-to-use and faster solutions to help with the daily chores of keeping the house and family clean.

Kao Malaysia Marketing vice president Tan Poh Ling said: “Kao Malaysia’s hallmark solutions – Merries, Attack and Magiclean – serve to provide the highest-quality and fastest solutions in home maintenance and baby care.”

She added that they are so easy to use, that even the growing number of dads who help out with household chores have no problems taking on the tasks.

The Merries baby diapers, Magiclean homecare range, and Attack laundry concentrated powder are the top-selling brands in Japan.

At the event, Kao Japan Lifestyle Research Centre and Positive Parenting also launched a parenting guidebook, The Secret to My Modern Parenthood, which offers practical advice to families in terms of home care and increased domestic efficiency.

The guidebook can also be downloaded from the Kao Malaysia website.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 02:57:09 +0000 S. Indra Sathiabalan 549690 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Children’s wishes fulfilled http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/children%E2%80%99s-wishes-fulfilled
Each Make-a-Wish child also received a goodie bag filled with movie merchandise.

The screenings were part of the celebration for World Wish Day 2018.

“Many of these children are still battling illnesses, and we believe a wish can help transform their life, replacing fear, anxiety and depression with confidence, strength, and joy,” said Make-a-Wish Malaysia chief executive officer Irene Tan.

Golden Screen Cinemas chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee added: “GSC is pleased to work with Make-a-Wish Malaysia to grant the wishes of these children who have life-threatening medical conditions.”

Make-a-Wish is the world’s largest wish-granting organisation, whose mission is to grant wishes to children diagnosed with critical illnesses.

Malaysia, an affiliate since 2010, has since granted 440 wishes to children nationwide.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 02:55:26 +0000 theSundaily 549688 at http://www.thesundaily.my
The monsters hidden within http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/23/monsters-hidden-within
That was the case for Sharlene Teo (below), a UK-based Singaporean writer who won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award in May 2016 and the £10,000 (RM53,670) in prize money for her first novel, Ponti.

At that time, she had barely written 60 pages, or some 25,000 words, of that manuscript.

“So when I won [the award] in May, I was working on [the manuscript] all the way to September,” said Teo, 31, during a tele-conference call from Singapore.

Teo holds an LLB (bachelor of law) from the University of Warwick and studied at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in creative and critical writing.

In 2012, she was awarded the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship to undertake an MA (master of arts) in prose fiction at UEA.

She is also the recipient of the 2013 David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship, the 2014 Sozopol Fiction Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and the University of Iowa International Writing Programme.

When she finally completed her manuscript, it was submitted to the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Ponti was later picked up by Picador and published in the UK in April this year. The book has been enjoying good buzz since then.

The story is told from the viewpoint of three Singaporean women in three different periods of time.

It begins with Szu, a socially-awkward teen who lives with her beautiful but emotionally-distant mother, Amisa, a 1970s actress of a horror film series called Ponti.

Amisa has her own story about coming from an impoverished family, heading to the big city as a teenager and being discovered by a film director.

The third person is Circe, Szu’s more worldly friend and confidant, who reflects on their friendship some two decades later.

When asked how different the original manuscript was to the book, Teo said: “It is not that different. The first 60 pages that were submitted were in fact the first 60 pages of the [now 293-page] novel.”

The title, Ponti, can be taken as a shortened reference to the pontianak, a female vampiric ghost in Malay mythology.

Teo said: “I have always been fascinated by the pontianak mythology, the Malay myth about a woman who dies at childbirth, the kind of myths and superstitious neighbourhood mystery.

“This monster that enters a domestic space – I was interested in how we perceived women as villains or monsters.

“The pontianak is this attractive woman but when you look at her closely, she is all these monstrous things.

“So I was very interested in how we perceive a woman and female beauty. So I combined that with [Amisa’s] movies.”

Amisa is an actress who dreams of becoming a big star. “She never really makes it and she never becomes famous enough.”

Teo said that Amisa is manipulated by the director into thinking that he sees more in her than her beauty. Obviously, tired of being objectified, Amisa falls for this, but when the movies don’t take off, neither does her career.

Teo said she developed Amisa’s character first, adding that “people are kind of surprised by that”.

Perhaps, it is because the story begins with Szu, and it is Szu whom we relate to the most.

Teo explained: “I started to write a novel from the point of view of a pontianak but it didn’t really work. So that was when I started thinking about this character, Amisa.”

But she admitted that Szu is essentially the heart of the story.

“Szu is meant to be relatable. She is kind of the narrative guide. She is easy [for us] to empathise with or sympathise with, unlike Amisa and Circe.

“In a way, Circe is more like Amisa than Szu is.”

As to why she chose to write the story from the point of view of three characters, Teo said: “I don’t know. It just came to me. I think it is because I tend to write organically.”

And unlike many Asian female writers who like to focus on generations of suffering women, Teo penned a story about women, especially Amisa, who chose to live on their own terms.

“Amisa chooses to be lazy. Later in life, when she is offered supporting roles, she says why should she ... be pigeon-holed because she is ageing.

“In her marriage, she has so much control. Even with her husband ... she chooses to keep him at arm’s length.

“So it was deliberate on my part to write a more realistic story on how people behave.”

Teo is currently busy promoting Ponti.

As for her next book, “I am a quarter of the way through but it will take a while to get there.”


Ponti is available on MPH Online at RM79.90.]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 23 May 2018 02:46:03 +0000 S. Indra Sathiabalan 549680 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Hovering kids go political in Hong Kong festival parade http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/22/hovering-kids-go-political-hong-kong-festival-parade
The annual "Piu Sik" or "Floating Colours" march sees young residents held up on towering metal poles and greeted by cheers and applause as they are carried through the winding streets of the outlying island, which is still predominantly a fishing community.

The parade is part of Cheung Chau's famous five-day "bun festival" which culminates Tuesday night in a precipitous scramble up a tower made from imitation steamed buns, a favourite snack on the island.

Statues of deities were originally carried through the streets as part of the festival parade. But 70 years ago they were replaced by children, inspired by similar celebrations in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

In the past two decades, the march has also evolved into a form of political satire.

Children from a parade group headed by local resident Wong Sing-chau dressed as the city's finance secretary and Democratic lawmakers to reflect current controversies.

A four-year-old girl from Wong's group posed as the landlady from popular Hong Kong movie "Kung Fu Hustle", complete with pink pyjamas and hair rollers, in what he said was a nod to the city's sprawling housing costs.

"I want to speak for the people through satire," Wong told AFP. "Everyone suffers from high rent and unaffordable housing now".

A mini-version of city leader Carrie Lam in pink cheongsam and pearls also joined the parade, alongside children dressed as local sports stars including bespectacled Hong Kong snooker player Ng On-yee and champion cyclist Sarah Lee.

The ability to withstand the blazing sun for hours during the parade was one of the requirements for being selected, said Wong.

Temperatures reached 34°C on Tuesday, the hottest parade day in 71 years, with children trying to keep cool using fans and umbrellas.

For five-year-old Hayden Kwok, it was a taste of fame.

"Many people will say hello to me. I can see myself on TV," he told AFP before the event, during which he was dressed as pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui.

Hayden's father Kwok Yu-tin said he wanted his children to inherit tradition through participation.

"Participation gives them a better understanding of what the tradition is and they can feel the atmosphere for themselves," he said. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 22 May 2018 11:24:46 +0000 theSundaily 549541 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Third of girls in South Asia miss school during periods http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/22/third-girls-south-asia-miss-school-during-periods
The study by WaterAid and Unicef also found many girls across the region — up to two-thirds in Sri Lanka — did not know about menstruation before starting their periods

Many schools in the region of more than 1.7 billion did not provide enough toilets for girls. This, coupled with a lack of access to proper sanitary pads, meaning students were choosing to stay at home during their periods.

"Girls have an irrevocable right to education, which is lost if they feel unable to attend lessons because of a lack of sanitary products or clean, private toilets at school," said Tim Wainwright, WaterAid chief executive, in a statement.

"Governments simply need to ensure that every school has clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene."

In one district of eastern Nepal there was just one toilet for every 170 girls, the report found.

That was far below the World Health Organization standard recommending a toilet for every 25 girls. Other South Asian countries also failed to meet the global standard.

The report — published ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 — said two-thirds of girls in Sri Lanka were unaware of menstruation before hitting puberty.

"Girls often turn to their mothers and teachers for support, but if they lack the confidence and information themselves, they may instead perpetuate taboos," said WaterAid regional programme manager for South Asia, Therese Mahon.

Menstruation is considered impure in many parts of South Asia and restrictions are imposed on women's movement, behaviour and eating habits during their periods.

In Afghanistan a majority of girls do not bathe during menstruation for fear of infertility.

In western Nepal, women are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods in a custom known as "chhaupadi" that has been criminalised.

Mahon said there were some positive signs, with more schools incorporating information about menstruation into their curriculum.

"A more positive environment combined with better facilities that are clean and maintained can go a long way to remove the barriers that restrict opportunities for girls," she said. — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 22 May 2018 11:02:42 +0000 theSundaily 549533 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Russia's 'circus for delinquents' comes of age http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/22/russias-circus-delinquents-comes-age
The Upsala Circus "for delinquents" has also just won a top theatre prize, despite hostility from some state authorities.

"All children and especially children at risk need something interesting, something 'cool' to give them energy and a desire to change their life," said Larisa Afanasyeva, the founder and artistic director of Upsala.

She started the circus almost two decades ago to offer vulnerable young people a chance to develop their talents, in a country with only basic provision for orphans or the disabled.

Around 70 children who are from poor families, orphans or disabled currently come to the circus company's tent in north Saint Petersburg to prepare shows of mostly acrobatics, some 45 each year.

A performance by children with Down Syndrome last month won a prize at the 'Golden Mask' awards which usually acknowledge the glitzy high-end of Moscow theatre.

The company has come a long way since Afanasyeva set it up in 2000 along with a German student, Astrid Shorn.

Back then the two young women had nothing but their drive to help some of the most vulnerable in Russian society.

Upsala Circus had no proper rehearsal space so the troupe got together in the parks and squares of Russia's second city.

Finally having a big top was a "dream come true", making a huge difference for the young performers, said Afanasyeva.

Upsala had managed to buy the tent, which incorporates a main arena and a rehearsal space, five years ago thanks to private sponsors. The circus receives no state funds.

The walls are decorated with humorous graffiti, with one slogan reading: "If you don't behave yourself, we'll send you to join the circus".

'Freedom is scary'

"I met Larisa and Astrid when they were monocycling around the embankment" in Saint Petersburg, recalled Nikolai Grudino, now aged 25, of his first encounter with the circus founders as a 10-year-old.

"It was a very hard time for my family and I preferred to spend my time out of the house.

"But after I met Larisa, I realised it was more interesting to be in the circus than to hang about in the street," he said, adding that the circus had turned him from a "delinquent" into an artist.

But despite its success, Afanasyeva has the impression the project is "not moving forward", largely because of hostility from some who run state services such as orphanages.

"It was easier when we were starting out in the early 2000s. Back then everything was more open. Now there are too many rules, too many things you can't do," she told AFP.

Orphanages are keen for their charges to take part in more wholesome or "patriotic" activities, she said.

"We teach the children to be free and that's a scary prospect.

"(The authorities) just want the children to stay out of trouble, but we are talking about freedom and art." — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Tue, 22 May 2018 10:55:33 +0000 theSundaily 549526 at http://www.thesundaily.my
'Mad' king's lost gift to Wagner gets rare show http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/05/16/mad-kings-lost-gift-wagner-gets-rare-show
The Lohengrin vase, made of porcelain, was given to Wagner more than 150 years ago by Ludwig II, the "mad king" of Bavaria, whose passion for building fairy-tale castles was matched only by his love of Wagner's operas.

It was believed lost after Allied bombing in World War II destroyed much of Bayreuth, the town where Wagner built the legendary theatre that now hosts an annual music festival.

But one fragment emerged after the war and was taken to the Belgian capital, Brussels, in 1949, where it has largely remained out of sight in the intervening years.

A group of Wagner devotees recently received a special viewing during a production in Brussels of the opera "Lohengrin" — the work that first bewitched Ludwig — and an AFP reporter was given a rare glimpse.

Patrick Collon, the renowned organ maker and art expert who now owns the fragment, said that "Ludwig was barely 18 years old when he started thinking about this vase, and he obsessed about it for six months. His diaries are full of it".

"After Ludwig became king he sought out Wagner, who was hiding from his creditors, all over central Europe. He found him a year later and gave him this vase in May 1865 for his 52nd birthday," added Collon, 75.

'First creation'

Saved from the ruins of the defeated Nazi Germany in 1945, the fragment at first looks insignificant, consisting of just the blue and gold base of the urn-like vase, and part of one rounded side.

But it sheds an intriguing light on the extraordinary friendship between the young Ludwig and the older Wagner.

The eccentric Ludwig is best known for designing the fantastical Neuschwanstein near Munich which served as the model for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle.

A minor king under whom Bavaria lost its independence to Prussia, Ludwig has nevertheless gone down in history as a patron of the arts, especially of the equally erratic Wagner.

Ludwig was just 15 and infused by the old German legends when he first saw Wagner's "Lohengrin", based on the traditional story of the Swan Knight, and which later became the inspiration for Neuschwanstein Castle.

Two years later, Ludwig became obsessed by creating a porcelain vase featuring scenes from Lohengrin.

"It was Ludwig's first creation. He didn't make it himself but he imagined it, he dreamed up the scenes that were painted on it by his drawing teacher," the German landscape painter Leopold Rottmann, said Collon.

Rottmann's watercolours of the receptacle — the only surviving evidence of what it looked like in full — show four scenes from the opera and have a lid and handles in the shape of a swan.

The fragment in Brussels shows a gilded swan, the tragic heroine, Elsa, on a balcony, and the two villains Telramund and Ortrud.

It is the only piece that survived the Allied bombing of Bayreuth on April 5, 1945. Two other similar vases — a Tannhaeuser Cup and a Flying Dutchman Cup — were destroyed on that day.

'Horrors of war'

"It was said that it had disappeared and that nothing was left of it. But in 1949 the Wagner brothers (Wagner's grandsons Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner) were able to get a piece in a pretty box to a Belgian benefactor," said Collon.

"At the end of her life, she gave it to a musician friend. When the friend died it was passed to me."

The benefactor — identified by Collon only as Juliette, contributed to the post-war reopening of the Bayreuth festival in 1951 and was nicknamed "Joan of Arc" by the Wagner brothers.

The Brussels fragment is an object of fascination for music lovers.

"A smart friend once said to me: 'in the end, it's moving because it's broken'", said Collon.

"This fragment has survived all the horrors of war." — AFP]]>
Lifestyle Wed, 16 May 2018 04:15:52 +0000 theSundaily 548070 at http://www.thesundaily.my