Friday, August 15, 2008

Ahhh, the Olympic games!

There is so much excitement around the Olympic games this year-more, it seems than usual. I started wondering about the origins of the event as well as where it is headed-given that it is increasingly becoming a platform for political expression. Of course, the games began in ancient Greece: participants were required to be young men from various Greek cities who had trained for a minimum of 10 months preceeding the games. (Women, it can be noted, were only permitted to participate in equestrian events). There were a number of skill-testing games, among them footraces, chariot races, wrestling and boxing. I was particularly interested in boxing. Initially soft leather covered their fingers but eventually hard leather weighted with metal was sometimes used. That got me thinking about metal on hands and, being a metalsmith, I wanted to capture the simplicity and harsh brutality of this event. So I created this ring: I think it captures the kind of raw determination you would need to spar with an opponent wearing metal-tipped leather gloves!

Truce was called during the games to allow the safe passage of the athletes and visitors-wars and legal disputes were put on hold and generally this was observed. There is a story however, that claims that the Spartans were forbidden from attending the games and fined 200,000 drachmas for assaulting the city of Lepreum during the period of the truce, claiming that the truce had not yet taken hold.

Crazy Spartans. Always lookin' for a fight.

The ancient Greeks exhibited a great understanding of human nature when they realized the potential for political grandstanding and took steps to prevent this during the games. But nowadays there is a growing tendency to use this global event to express political viewpoints, in spite of the original intent.

What about you? Do you think the games should symbolize peace, goodwill and sportsmanship throughout the world? Or do you think that it is an ideal opportunity to capture the world's attention and make a stand for what you believe in? Our very own Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotted the Olympic games this year to make a statement.

As for me, I'm grateful that I live in a place where I have the freedom to choose.


Nnairda's said...

Love your ring! It definitely makes a statement.

As for me and the Olympics, I'm under the belief that it should be for peace and good sportsmanship. Leave politics to the politicians.

Thanks for the history lesson!

Francesca said...

What a beautiful ring!

Personally I find it hard to separate the political from pretty much anything these days, maybe a side-effect of getting older, or maybe not. I always enjoy the Olympics wherever it's held, but every culture has its darker side in need of illumination and we ignore that at our peril.

It'll be mighty interesting to see what the protests are about when it comes to this country in 4 years time!

Karin said...

I love this ring! Freedom has been my word the last year or so. I find myself painting it and doodling(doodeling?) it alot.
I think basically people are always going to use any podium they can to get their voices/views heard. I don't think the olympics is a good place for that. One of the best pictures I saw was of a Russian Olympian hugging an Olympian from Georgia right in the midst of their countries waring against eachother. That's what it's about.

Liv'nGood Jewelry said...

that ring is amazing!

MDC said...

You are a True Metalsmith, very talented. I have always liked the look of this one. You are amazing. Mark


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