Thursday, August 20, 2015

Carpe Diem #801 Khartoum

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are sailing with our papyrus boat from Alexandria to the source of The Nile. We have crossed the border between Egypt and Sudan and we have arrived in the region of Khartoum.

Khartoum is the capital and second largest city of Sudan and Khartoum state. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as the "al-Mogran", meaning the Confluence. The main Nile continues to flow north towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
Divided by the Niles, Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis with an estimated overall population of over five million people, consisting of Khartoum proper, and linked by bridges to Khartoum North and Omdurman to the west.

The origin of the word Khartoum is uncertain. One theory argues that khartoum is derived from Arabic kharṭūm meaning 'trunk' or 'hose', probably referring to the narrow strip of land extending between the Blue and White Niles. Captain J. A. Grant, who reached Khartoum in 1863 with Captain Speke's expedition, thought that the name was most probably from the Arabic qurtum, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), which was cultivated extensively in Egypt for its oil to be used as fuel.

Credits: Skyline of Khartoum, capital of Sudan

Khartoum was established 15 miles (24 km) north of the ancient city of Soba in 1821 by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Egypt's ruler, Muhammad Ali Pasha, who had just incorporated Sudan into his realm. Originally, Khartoum served as an outpost for the Egyptian Army, but the settlement quickly grew into a regional center of trade. It also became a focal point for the slave trade. Later, it became the administrative center of Sudan and official capital. (Source: Wikipedia)

As you could read above there is the idea that Khartoum got its name from the Safflower and that makes it somewhat easier to write/compose a haiku or tanka in response of this prompt. So I love to tell you a little bit more about Safflower.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 in) tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange, or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments.

Credits: Safflower

Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen. John Chadwick reports that the Greek name for safflower (kārthamos) occurs many times in Linear B tablets, distinguished into two kinds: a white safflower, which is measured, and red which is weighed. "The explanation is that there are two parts of the plant which can be used; the pale seeds and the red florets." (Source: Wikipedia)

While I was preparing this episode I sought for examples of haiku in which the Safflower is mentioned and I found a beautiful haiku, a not so well known one, by Matsuo Basho:

mayuhaki o omokage ni shite beni no hana

an eyebrow brush
is the image drawn by
safflower blossoms

© Basho

This haiku Basho wrote as he was on his journey "oku no hosomichi" or "the small road into the deep north" in the summer of 1689. I have read this haibun several times, but this haiku I couldn't remember, but it's a beauty I think.

While surfing the Internet I ran also into a nice haiku on Safflower written by Bjórn Rudberg, you all will know him, in response on the Safflower prompt of CDHK back in April 2014. I love share that haiku here again with you:

safflower field
beneath the periwinkle sky –
sight to dye for

© Björn Rudberg

What a coincidence, I knew that I had used this Safflower earlier at CDHK, but wasn't aware of when I did use it. I think Khartoum has brought us a wonderful prompt "extra" and I hope it will inspire you to write an all new haiku or tanka to share here.

Credits: Safflower field at Yamagata

Here is my attempt, I have used the haiku which I shared in the above mentioned episode of CDHK and have revised it into the following haiku. I think it has become stronger and more in balance.

amazing sight
a yellow sea as far as I can see
Safflower field

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you did like this episode. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until August 23rd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, Blue Nile, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share.

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