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ACTIVITIES OF THE SOCIETY
BY CAMEL AND CAR TO THE PEACOCK THRONE
E. ALEXANDER POWELL A journey by camel caravan and motor across northern Arabia was entertainingly described before the Society, on November 21st, by Major E. Alexander Powell, war-correspondent and author.
One desiring a luxurious route and a comiortable mode of travel, will be unlikely to follow in the caravan route from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates valley; yet it is of interest that part of this age-old way followed centuries ago by the Queen of Sheba en route to Jerusalem. The illusion of the desert becomes somewhat shattered when one is told that very little sand and practically no oases,—at least of the fabled type with waving palms and cool wells—are encountered on the weary march to Bagdad. Neither is the camel recommended as a method of transportation for the casual traveller. The Bedouin is a nomad because he has no industries, and wanders through the necessity of finding pasturage for live-stock. When the summer heat has burned off the sparse vegetation of the central tableland, a northern migration of the entire Arab nation begins. This occurs in November and the winter months are spent in the Euphrates valley, with return southward in the Spring.
From Bagdad, Major Powell and his companions travelled by motor—by courtesy of American mission workers—to Tehran in western Persia. Thence, after viewing the jewel-encrusted Peacock Throne,-an ancient trophy of the Persian invasion of India and the sack of Delhi-return was made to the Euphrates valley, whence a hazardous motor tour was made across the desert to Aleppo and the coast.
THE LAFAYETTE NATIONAL PARK, MT. DESERT, MAINE
HERBERT W. GLEASON
Beautifully illustrated with colored slides and attractively presented was the lecture on Lafayette National Park, by Mr. Herbert Gleason, on December 5th.
Mt. Desert Island, discovered and named by Champlain, was the site of a French colony as early as 1608. The island covers an area of about 100 square miles, broken by inland fiords, showing traces of ancient glaciation. The Park Reservation comprises about 12,000 acres, not entirely continuous, but including much of the finest scenic areas. The unusual combination of a drowned coast, with flowering meadows, alluring lakes, and the overlook from the “biggest little mountains in the world,” make for charm almost unequalled in other Parks of the United States.
THE PUBLIC MARKETS OF FINLAND *
BY EUGENE VAN CLEEF
Ohio State University
In the public markets of Finland town and country meet. The rural folk from the outskirts of the cities come by horse-drawn cart, by push-cart, or up the rivers and bays by sailboat to sell a variety of wares nearly as diverse as in a modern department store. Most of these goods represent the results of hand labor, either in home manufactures, in gardening, or in farming. The merchandise of the markets in Finland is representative both of the productive skill of its rural people and the tastes of its civic population.
Perhaps the most striking impression upon the stranger who first visits the market is the oriental touch here and there. The proximity of Russia and its eastern impress is brought to one's attention by the narrow avenues of booths with flapping canvas covers (Fig. 1), with breadstuffs, fruits, shawls, and all manner of other goods hanging from the supporting uprights of the display stands, and with wares scattered here and there upon the ground, as in a bazaar of a Nijni-Novgorod Fair or as in a stall of far-off Persia. Many of the people with square-set jaws (Fig. 2), high cheek bones, slant eyes and stolid look suggest lands farther east rather than west. Men in long loose blue smocks, and high boots with turned-up toes, mingling with those dressed in characteristic western European style, suggest the borderland between oriental and occidental influences. Even the horses with shaggy manes, and short, stocky, rather Siberian build, serving in harness of Russian mode add to the evidence which points to an unmistakable eastern cast.
Yet, while the oriental characteristics at first flash forth here and there, a further acquaintance with the market reveals the dominant western influence. There is no bargaining; prices are fixed. Whether the buyer be native or foreign, whether competition be keen or totally absent, whether the hours for business be just opening or drawing to a close, prices do not change. There is precision in all
* A part of the writer's observations during 1923, as a guest of the Foreign Ministry Bureau of Finland.-Ed.
activities, although haste is absent. There are modern devices for the display of wares and for sale, which are the convincing indices of close contact with the western European element. Collapsible cardboard boxes, paper twine, butter tubs, metal pails, ice-cream carts, jardinières, wood trays, tea and coffee sets are just a few items in a long list which might be cited as the products of a western civilization.
The borderline location of Finland (see map, Fig. 5) between the Scandinavian countries on the west and Russia on the east has encouraged trespass from two directions. Occupation by the Finns of the territory now known as Finland, was a slow, drifting process covering a period of centuries and dating from about the beginning of the Christian era. The Finns it is supposed came from the south and southwest, from the middle Volga region via Karelia and also via Esthonia across the Gulf of Finland. There is some evidence of the presence of Swedes before the Finns arrived. The Finns, however, were not powerful people nor did they possess warlike tendencies. They mingled readily with the Swedes, and apparently the two peoples were quite agreeable to each other.
It was not until the period of Viking supremacy about the ninth century A. D. that the Finns were seriously disturbed. Then the Swedes established themselves in power and made Finland a part of Sweden. The Swedes and Russians did not fare well with each other along their joint boundary line, and consequently RussoSwedish wars fought on Finland's soil were not infrequent. Finally, after some 800 years of control, the Swedes had to yield to the Russians and in 1809 Finland became a Russian possession. The country made progress during the reign of Czar Alexander I who assumed a liberal attitude toward the Finns; but in more recent times oppression set in with a vengeance. With Czar Nicholas II's appointment of Bobrikov, in 1898, as Governor-General of Finland critical times for the Finns were inaugurated, and not until Finland's declaration of independence in 1917 were her people free from Russian autocratic rule.
Thus, it may be readily seen from this brief itemization of the critical points in the history of Finland, that she has been the meeting ground for western and eastern cultures. Neither culture has succeeded in eliminating the other, although their sponsors have come into successive control. Sweden's cultural influence, however, is clearly dominant in the schools, the public press, religion, and art.