Voice of the Past: Mohammad on Cats

Turkish Angora cat

One of the more charming customs of Islam and its adherents is the reverence shown toward cats. Being a bit of a cat person, I was amazed upon my first trip to the region to see the care strangers offered the street cats. People left out food for them, some were taken in a house pets. In fact, my wife’s first kitten as a child was adopted in that way, off the streets of Istanbul and hauled around the world.

The reason for this compassion, I’d like to believe, is human nature. But in Islam, the compassion comes from emulation of Mohammad, their prophet. When not spreading Islam, Mohammad had a soft spot for felines. His favorite cat, Muezza, was described as being an Angora with a blue eye and a green eye.

Several of his sayings—captured in the Hadith—say that Mohammad had a fellow traveler who was nicknamed “King of the Kittens”—Abu Hurariah. He claims that his cat saved Muhammad from a snake bite. To show appreciation, Muhammad stroked the cat’s neck, causing the cat to arch up for more caresses. Believers say that Muhammad’s blessing gave all cats the “righting reflex”—a well-known cat behavior.

For more practical reasons, cats are admired for their cleanliness, as bathing is a hallmark of Islamic custom. Cats are thus allowed to roam into Mosques, homes and hospitals. Food sampled by cats is considered clean—or halal. Others believe that cats are always looking for those in prayer, and will reward the pious with their company.

The most famous cat crazy story in relation to Mohammad follows like this:

Mohammad arose to the call to prayer—the adhan—by the muezzin of the mosque. He reached for his cloak only to find his cat, Muezza, asleep upon its sleeve. Rather than disturbing the cat’s slumber, Mohammad cut the cloak from the sleeve, leaving the cat undisturbed.

While some might see that to be a waste of outerwear, only a cat lover could appreciate such a sentiment. However, as much as I like my cats, I am not cutting off the sleeve of my parka to accommodate their seeming narcolepsy.


Turkish Angora Cat Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn / Foter.com / CC BY

Depiction of  17th century Ottoman copy of an early 14th century (Ilkhanate period) manuscript of Northwestern Iran or northern Iraq (the “Edinburgh codex”). Illustration of Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī‘s al-Âthâr al-bâqiyah ( الآثار الباقية ; “The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries”)  Photo credit: unknown / Foter.com / Public Domain Mark 1.0


Hatch Show Print

live music

“Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms.”
– The Hatch Brothers

Nashville’s Hatch Show Print has been putting ink and block letters to press since 1875. The shop’s success was in its proximity to Nashville’s music scene. The nearby Ryman Auditorium hosted country music acts from all over the region, and through the monstrous WSM AM radio, reached the deep south. In that crucible, the music of Appalachia became the country, western and folk music industries. The founders of the shop, the Hatch brothers, cornered the music poster market. With their old print face, bold ink and screen print images, Hatch created Pre-Warholian icons—catapulting the fame of Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Elvis and everyone in the country music business.

Like all businesses, Hatch fell on hard times in the 70’s and almost disappeared. In 1986, Gaylord company—the reviver of the Grand Old Opry—bought Hatch to use for its promotion of concerts at the new Opry. Soon thereafter, the Hatch was released from its corporate servitude to become part of the non-profit Country Music Hall of Fame. Hatch was restored to a location on Nashville’s Honky-Tonk row, in the shadows of the old Opry—the Ryman.

Hatch represents the ur-graphic of contemporary society’s advertisers. In our app driven, info-graphic sharing, and mad-men advertising inundated age, Hatch offers a nostalgic escape to the beginnings of advertising—simple posters, hand cranked in a manner that hadn’t much changed since Gutenberg invented the process. The toil appeals to the hipster culture—those seeking the authentic, original and local in their cultural delights. Hatch doesn’t disappoint. And one of their best-selling souvenir prints captures the spirit of their craft in the modern world:


Knowing that I only had about an hour between meetings, I wanted to take in as much of Nashville’s Honky-Tonk row as possible—BBQ at Jack’s, peeking in the old Ryman, and seeing what music was wafting from the row of country music bars down Nashville’s Broadway. And there, mid-row, stood Hatch. Having seen the colorful posters all over town—from the airport gate to the hotel lobby—I had to seek out a poster for my own. There is something about those old broadsides, pressed against hand-inked letters with the full force of an old printing press that appeals to your author. The inconsistencies in the ink are welcome, making each iteration unique.

Music City Rising | Nashville Flood Relief

Music City Rising | Nashville Flood Relief

Music City Rising | Nashville Flood Relief

Music City Rising | Nashville Flood Relief

Hatch provides a visual cocktail, drowning my sight with vibrant colors from hundreds of prints on its old brick and wood walls. The shop is fairly simple—reprints of famous posters for the tourist, a modest checkout counter, and a massive print shop to the rear. Tours are offered, but I didn’t have the time. The staff were busy pressing out another round of posters for an upcoming show. So, their assistant came out to greet me.


Huey exudes all of the alpha qualities of the master of the hall. He saunters over to the door to greet customers in that cat way, rubbing past your ankle, marking your khakis with his scent, to let the other cats know: this human’s mine, back off. Huey accepts a petting on his terms. A too assertive stroke is met by his fast-scratching paw.

Of the thousands of choices, and the possibilities for a custom job, I was overwhelmed by what the Germans call “die Qual der Wahl”–the torture of choosing. I could have picked up a fan-boy poster, but only one print seemed to capture the visual buffet of Hatch, and my experience with its true proprietor, manager and CEO.

Hatch Cats letterpress poster

Huey Photo Credit: By the author, December, 2010.

Hatch Show Print Process Photo credits: griffintech / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Press Photo credit: newwavegurly / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Huey poster credit: Nick Sherman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Luddites Unite Source: message.co.uk blog

Source: http://countrymusichalloffame.org/hatch-show-print-history/