Monday, May 26, 2008

Attack of the Giant Knick-Knacks

Those responsible for beautifying public areas in Muslim countries face a challenge: in varying degrees, local sentiment frowns on depictions of human beings. Where I live, the challenge is especially acute, as the local leadership is extremely aesthetically minded and is intent on having the capital and other cities serve as showcases for local culture and progress.

The solution: instead of statues of historic figures and local notables, planners have settled on the sometimes odd practice of using giant versions of everyday items.

The result: traffic circles adorned with giant incense burners (I especially love this one because the coals glow red at night, very festive):

Or a globe, supported by mosaics depicting the glories of local history (in a surprising failure of imagination, it neither rotates nor light up particularly interestingly):

Or gilded coffeepots (sadly, here you can't see the smaller pots that surround these three, which are also fountains):

Or water jugs, which rather more naturally act as fountains:

It's a form of gigantism that creeps into other aspects of design, so that a water tower, for example, can be transformed into the largest incense burner of them all, looming unsettlingly on the horizon like a landing saucer:

There is, however, one notable exception to local practices on Graven Images: when they involve the Beloved Leader. Come November, 'round about the annual celebration of His Birthday, royal portraits grace every lampost, overpass, and large flat surface in the land:

Fortunately, he's not that hard to look at, especially compared to some of his neighboring sovereigns (ever had a look at some of them? They'd stop clocks). That's especially a good thing, as his portrait isn't just outdoors - it's everywhere. Shops, restaurants, offices, you name it, this is what you'll see:

Aren't you glad we don't do that back in the U.S.? Imagine having to see that every time you want to go shopping...


  1. Is that a knife in your robe or are you just glad to see me?

    (Ba dum-bum!)

  2. Wow!
    It's like Mideasto-Disney.

  3. Great post. More like this one please?

    Also, Regarding HM's picture everywhere; I think Barak Obama is really really hot, so should he be elected, and should I move to America, I would sort of like it if we could plaster his image everywhere.

  4. nice report
    and if i was an american... Bush's pic will surely spoil my day