Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Day 82-The Story of Coffee

TODAY'S topic revolves around a book, a painting, 4 brass goblets and Norway.

The Book is an old Koran or Qur'an, 1" long and 5/8" wide with 15 pages of extracted Arabic teachings printed from real miniature Qur'an.

The painting, 2 1/2" by 1 7/8", is of a Mullah or religious teacher being transported on his elephant howdah:

The 4 brass goblets, from a set of more than 20 years old, standing at 3/4" high with rim of 1/2" in diameter,(if you only see 3, that's because 1 is being used) are crafted, not for wine but for another just as intoxicating drink.

I am sure you can tell by now with such obvious clues that today's topic is about coffee. Creamy, caffienated and completely addicting, coffee.

Coffee and The Koran

Coffee, as many of you know, was believed to have originated from the Muslim world. Legend has it that a Yemenite Sufi mystic Shaikh ash-Shadhili, when traveling in Ethiopia, observed some dancing goats with unusual vitality, and, upon trying the berries that the goats had been eating, experienced the same vitality and started twirling as well. That was coffee bean of course and the Shaikh is today regarded as the patron saint of coffee-growers, coffee-house proprietors and coffee-drinkers, and in Algeria coffee is sometimes called shadhiliyye in his honor.

Coffee spreads in the Moslem world quickly for its ability to drive away sleep makes it a popular beverage amongst the Sufis. Inevitably, more and more people gather together for a cuppa and soon coffee houses were established.

The very 1st coffeehouse in the world was in Istanbul, Turkey in 1554. When I was there, many of them claimed to be The One. The word "coffee" is said to have been derived from the Turkish word "Kahve" which in turn was from the Arabic word "qahwa"

Coffee and the Goblets

At first, the Arabians made wine from the pulp of the fermented coffee berries, known as qishr. When alcohol was banned, coffee became the substitute beverage in spiritual practices. The beverage became known as qahwa — a term formerly applied to wine — and was referred to by the Europeans as "The Wine of Islam."

Like wine, Sufi poets and mystics waxed lyrical of its euphoric effect and even gave a special term for "ultimate coffee high" or "maqawa", an experience you acquire if you imbibe your coffee with prayerful intent and devotion. This experience is likened to "the enjoyment which the people of God feel in beholding the hidden mysteries and attaining the wonderful disclosures and the great revelations"!!

Part of the prayerful devotion way of drinking is to use brass goblets, similar to how one may drink wine.

Coffee and the Travelling Mullah

In the first few centuries of its history in the Islamic world, much controversy surrounded coffee. The effects of caffeine and the gatherings in which it was consumed seemed debauched to some and subversive to others. Soon, coffeehouses competed with mosques for attendance, and as unsupervised gathering places for wits and learned men, provided spawning grounds for sedition.

Till today, many rebellion started with the seeds in coffeeshops where people tend to complain loudly, usually about their government (even in Singapore) after a few cuppas, sometimes even when he is alone.

There were countless attempts to ban coffee. Coffee was made to stand trial in Mecca and later on, even the Christians banned the drink for a while.

In Persia, coffeehouses evolved into hotbeds of lasciviousness and political dispute soon after they were introduced. Shah Abbas I responded by installing mullahs at the most fashionable establishments.

The Mullah would arrive early in the morning, using the speediest howdahs he can find and upon reaching the coffeeshops, would propound on topics of religion, history, law and poetry. He then encourage those assembled there to be off to their work. This method worked so well to ensure a pious ambience and controlled envrionment that centuries later, when mullahs no longer visit these places, pictures of them are put up, hopefully to achieve the same effect.

Coffee and Norway

And after all that, how does Norway figure in a coffee topic? Believe it or not, Norwegians are one of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. 41 tonnes worth of coffee imported a year for a 4.5m population means each person above the age of 15 drinks at least 4 cups of coffee a day!

Maybe Helene of Pubdolls can verify this for after all, not only is she from Norway, she is the maker of all these beautiful "clues" which I received on 3/7/09. All because I sent her a hookah, a couple of elephants and a Vespa.

Some time back, Helene created an Oriental Room and I can't help thinking that that room will make such a great coffeehouse. One where artist and prince, man and woman , poor and rich can gather and enjoy each other's company. Or they may be happy just being by themselves, reading, drinking or admiring a work of art, not whining or complaining about anybody, just contented in their bliss, surrounded by beautiful things made by wonderful friends.

Thank you, Helene and Maqawa! May we all enjoy the ultimate coffee high!


Ara said...

Fantastic history lesson as usual Sans! I personally do not like coffee but my husband and parents love it!! I will be glad to pass on a little bit of this history with them! I love knowing where things come from! -ara

Pubdoll said...

Sans, your researching skills, ability to present what you find with wit and humour and at the same time connect the seemingly unconnected amazes me!
I get all my Maqawa from the caffein in Diet Coke rather than coffee, but because of my insufficient consumption my husband felt obliged to have eight cups tonight. He is now rambling about a certain Nusret Hoja of Erzurum, who is calling the wrath of Heaven upon your blog.

Sans said...

Hey Ara, coffee is an acquired taste and both you and Helene should definitely start drinking it regularly because coffee prevents dementia!! I am a hopeless addict but only 1 cup a day in the morning. Last night however, I took an extra, all because of this post and I only needed 2 hour sleep and have been experiencing Maqawa since! I guess Helene's hubby is in good company. In my Maqawa state, I even forced Raj Singh to drink a bit of my hazelnut coffee (see his goblet). Like you, Ara, he is no fan of coffee , he just likes to hold a goblet full to be fashionable.

Helene :), you are addicted after all :)! LOL, and thank you for your complements! Psst, for those of you wondering who Nustret Hoja of Erzurum is, I believe he is a fictitious mystic from Turkey and this is what I found out:

Nusret Hoja of Erzurum is probably based on Mehmed of Birgi (1522-73), whose followers preached a "propaganda campaign from the pulpits of Istanbul mosques [leading] to great social upheaval, splitting the people into two groups. [These preachers] condemned all practices introduced since the time of the Prophet as 'innovation', and those who practised them as unbelievers. They announced that tobacco and coffee, and any kind of song and dance, were contrary to the religious law, and demanded the abolition of mathematics and the intellectual sciences from the medreses ["colleges]"

I am shocked that you do not drink coffee with that kind of staggering statistics, Helene but no surprise about Diet Coke (I am addicted to that too as you already know) being born and bred probably in the most caffienated nation in the world.

rosanna said...

Hi Sans, I definitely drink coffe and, as all Italians do, I think that espresso is the most civilized way to have it ;o) to say the truth I scandalize everyone because I love loooong, tea like Ameican coffee as well. I should need a barrel by now, I work too much for my likings, stitch too much to be healthy and I wander around hospital much more than I wish. Not for myself at the moment. And I neglect friends....and I'm most sorry about it.Have you received a small parcel? hopefully it wil arrive soon.Big hugs

Liberty Biberty said...

What beautiful gifts you have recieved! I love your makeshift coffee house!
I have been a tea drinker since I was about 8 years old (I used to make my parents their first cup of the day before 7am - in some countries that would be called slavery). However, once I started my working life the benefits of drinking coffee became apparent, it helps to have something to keep you awake when you're doing a boring dead-end job.
Oddly enough pregnancy put me right off coffee and I've never really gone back to again. Now I only enjoy a cup in cafe occasionally and I do have very fond memories of the vanilla coffee we had in Canada, if only we had that here!

Josje said...

Wow, beautiful gifts! Helene did a wonderful job on all of them.
I love the smell of fresh ground coffee, but don't like the taste of it. I never drink coffee, I am a tea drinker. Like the Norwegians, the Dutch are also coffee lovers. I don't know if we'd make 4 cups per adult a day though!
I've missed many of your posts as, oddly enoughour, posts often don't show up in my reading list. I don't know what is causing it. Anyway, it 'll give me something to do during the summer vacation ;)

Sans said...

Rosanna, I like my coffee black and thick and for a while when I was in the Middle East, I fell in love with coffee where you can taste the powder. That's like how they do it in Vietnam as well. Vietnam has become the 2nd largest exporter, can you imagine? I always feel your presence so I don't think you have neglected your friends! And one things for sure, we are always here for you. I am very very upset that my parcel never reached you but no worries, I have more :) and I am dying to see your parcel :):):)! Happiness!! Sharing the laptop and need to post my comments in intervals lol!

Sans said...

Hey Mercedes, I am both a coffee and tea drinkers. I drink coffee for andrenaline and energy and Chinese tea to lose weight (hope)lol. I think making tea for mum and dad before they go out to work is so sweet , I don't think kids in our countries do that anymore! By the way, we have hazlnut coffee, 3in 1 . 3 in 1 (sachets with coffee, creamer and sugar) is popular here).

I have gone back to the book trick for the makeshift coffeehouse.

Sans said...

Dear Josje,wow, summer vacation huh? We have summer here all year and no vacation lol. You wouldn't believe the glitches I have been having with blogger. 1st, I could not upload image, then this morning, I could not comment on my own blog but had no problems with others. Just now, my blog was flagged as objectionable for a while!! lol. Thank you for popping over :) despite me not showing up on your blog. By the way, when I was researching, I believe the Dutch was the 1st Europeans to import coffee on a large scale mainly from Ceylon and Java (Indonesia) but Rosanna and her countrymen were the 1st to introduce coffee to the rest of Western Europe and Italy has the boasting rights to the 1st cafe in Europe (not counting Turkey) !

rosanna said...

Hi Sans, I have posted something on Casa Rossa which you may like. Go and have a look Hugs

Sans said...

LOL Rosanna, I already read your new posts and told you how I felt before seeing this comment! I always go to your posts too quickly when I am online especially now when it is about Casa Rossa!!

Meli said...

Sans the story as usual is fantastic!!! I adore coffee, can do anything in the morning without a cup of it!!!
Mini hugs,

MiniKat said...

Dementia or not, I'm a tea drinker. Coffee has never been a taste that I can wrap my taste buds around. I'm certain there is at least one herbal tea in the world that can ward off dementia that will taste better than coffee. ;-)

Sans said...

Thank you, Meli, you and me both :). It is not in my head too about not being able to do anything without coffee. I sit down and then my head just refused to until I remember . Just 1 sip and I can function again.

Kat, looks like you tea-drinkers are in the majority :). In Singapore, there is a very popular drink called "Yin Yan" where coffee and tea is mixed. Maybe you can try that and pretend it's a herbal!

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