The Big Fish (Salmon of Knowledge)

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A few nice how to cook images I found:

The Big Fish (Salmon of Knowledge)
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Image by infomatique
The tour guide told us that, according to legend, if you kissed this fish you gained knowledge. Bearing in mind that it has only existed since 1999 it is most unlikely that one could claim that there are legends attached to this piece of public art. There is however an old celtic story known as "The Legend of the Salmon of Knowledge".

The Salmon figures prominently in The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, which recounts the early adventures of Fionn mac Cumhaill. According to the story, it was an ordinary salmon that ate the nine hazel nuts that fell into the Well of Wisdom from nine hazel trees that surrounded the well. In doing so, the salmon gained all the knowledge in the world. Moreover, the first person to eat of its flesh would, in turn, gain this knowledge.

The poet Finn Eces spent seven years fishing for the salmon. When he finally caught it, he instructed his apprentice, Fionn, to prepare it for him. Fionn burned his thumb when spattered with a drop of the hot fat from the cooking salmon and immediately sucked on it to ease the pain. Unbeknownst to Fionn, all the wisdom had been concentrated into that one drop, and Fionn had just imbibed it all.

When he brought the cooked meal to Finegas, his master saw a fire in the boy’s eyes that had not been there before. When asked by Finegas, Fionn first denied that he had eaten of the fish. But when pressed, Fionn admitted his accidental taste. Throughout the rest of his life, Fionn could access this font of knowledge merely by biting his thumb.
It was this incredible knowledge and wisdom gained from the Salmon of Knowledge that allowed Fionn to become the leader of the Fianna, the famed heroes of Irish myth.
In Welsh mythology, the story of how the poet Taliesin received his wisdom follows a similar pattern.

The Big Fish also called the Bigfish is a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture by John Kindness 10 metres long constructed in 1999 Located at Donegall Quay in Belfast, near the Lagan Lookout and Custom House.

The outer skin of the fish is a cladding of ceramic tiles decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast. Material from Tudor times to present day newspaper headlines are included along with contributions from Belfast school children (including a soldier and an Ulster Fry). The Ulster Museum provided the primary source of historic images, while local schools/day centres located along the line of the River Farset were approached to provide drawings for the fish. Images were provided by Glenwood Primary School, St Comgalls and Everton Day Centres.

The Big Fish also contains a time capsule storing information/images/poetry on the City.

The work was commissioned to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan. The site is a significant landmark as it is the location of the confluence of the River Farset with the River Lagan (Belfast is named after the River Farset).

Looking down at the Akhar village 2
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Image by Pondspider
The Akha village is in a stunning location.

Luang Nam Tha is not the most exciting of towns but it has a thriving eco-tourist industry. The main street has many travel companies all claiming to be environmentally friendly and offering visitors the opportunity to do anything from one day treks to week long back country tours involving trekking, staying in hil tribe villages, kayaking etc. We went for the one day trek with "Green Discovery Tours".

We set off at about 8.30am and had about an hour long drive in a local open van. It was pretty cold that time in the morning. We drove up a dirt road into the hills. Our guide told us that the road had only been built a couple of years before. Prior to this, the Akhar village that we were to visit, could only be accessed on foot. This had made a great deal of difference to the lives of the villages because they could more easily travel to market, sell their goods and effectively join the cash economy. The village’s integration into the modern world will be further strengthened when it receives a power supply. As we drove up the mountain, the electricity poles were already up and workers were installing the wire.

In the past few years I have seen many poor villages and this was one of the poorest. We had a brief stop in the village and then went for our trek in the jungle, along narrow paths into deep and dark valleys. Fascinating but sadly not an easy place to take photos. For any decent shots I needed a tripod because the light levels were so low.

We had lunch in a small clearing by the stream with lots of sticky rice (we were beginning to get a little fed up of sticky rice by this time on the trip). Despite our request for veggie food, we’d been given some fish which the company guide and the local Akhar guide finished very happily!

After the trek we were invited for tea and a glass of the local brew at the chief’s house. Although the house was wooden and on bamboo stilts, all the cooking was done on a wood fire inside the property – looked a bit risky to me!

The village was very basic – no running water, no sewerage and no electricity. Unlike in India and many other countries, where the children run after you demanding to have their photos taken, there seemed to an sense of suspicion. We felt very much like rich people looking at poor people (which is hardly surprising because that is exactly the case). Akhar women traditionally go around topless after they are married and I got the feeling they were fed up with people staring at them. John did his best not to be seen even looking in their direction so as not to be categorised as a western male gawper!

The children were not in the greatest of health. There were quite a few with rather unpleasant looking skin conditions and there was a toddler with a horrible eye infection.

Our guide said that the Akhar did have some access to medical treatment but they preferred to consult the local shaman or healer. There was a primary school in the village but apparently attendance was not high.

It was a very interesting experience but I do wonder how the Akhar are going to cope with the big wide world out there!

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