Magazine

Tomáš Hlaváček, photo: CTK
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Footwear specialists from the Tomáš Baťa University have made replicas of the shoes warn by the terracotta army warriors. Water pipe smoking is gaining popularity in the Czech Republic and a politician sends 21,000 sms messages to say he is sorry! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Traveling around the country you will see statues of Czech politicians, poets and scientists but a group of important-looking people in the centre of České Budějovice might leave you stumped. Four men and two women in business suits looking as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. The Humanoids are the work of artist Michal Trpák and symbolize life at the turn of the 21st century, a group of managers who no longer have the time to lead lives of their own. The group is seen in motion – striding towards the next board meeting presumably – and they have done quite a lot of traveling around the country. They were exhibited at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport –where they were a big hit with tourists and in Prague’s Smíchov district. Michal Trpák says he did not make the piece with the intention of “moralizing”. “It is merely my perception of what present day life is like,” he told reporters. Well, have a look for yourself – as far as I’m concerned this is a scary picture and plenty of people are sure to recognize themselves.


Czech film-directors must be going green with envy. A film student from the town of Zlín produced a low budget horror film within the space of ten days that immediately commanded attention in Hollywood. Robin Kašpařík sent his film –called Séance – to the Screamfest committee and it was immediately accepted. I’ve got a ticket to the States in my pocket, Robin, 23, told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The twenty-minute horror film tells the story of three people who are trying to find the property of a dead baroness by holding a séance in which they communicate with her spirit. It has already premiered in the United States, Canada, Mexico and India but viewers in the Czech Republic will have to wait a few months longer to see it. US bestselling author Jack Ketchum said the film had got him in the first thirty seconds and held him enthralled right to the end. “It sure was good to hear that,” Robin Kašparík told the daily.


Speaking out before you stop to think can be pretty expensive. David Vodrážka, deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, recently committed a bad blunder when he told the press the party intended to sue the state for millions of crowns over the aborted early elections. Outraged party leader Mirek Topolánek rejected the claim as “rubbish” telling journalists that they might as well quote a fool from the back of beyond and present his words as party policy. Cowed, the fool from the back of beyond sent all party members with a registered cell phone an sms apology. He sent out 21 thousand sms messages for which he paid 31 thousand crowns from his own pocket. If more politicians were forced to apologize for their goofs the state of Czech politics might be a lot better - or mobile operators much richer.


Tomáš Hlaváček, photo: CTK
Years ago they made headlines by creating a replica of the shoes worn by Oetzi the Ice-Man. Now they are back in the news – this time footwear specialists from the faculty of Tomáš Baťa in Zlín have managed to create replicas of the shoes warn by the terracotta army warriors. It all began with a two-year research project in China – a team of four footwear specialists were granted permission by the Chinese authorities to study the warriors’ shoes –on a grant financed by the Czech Education Ministry. It was considered a huge honour –even though the terracotta army had been meticulously studied by Chinese scientists, there had not been any research in the field of footwear – and the Tomáš Baťa University was considered an expert in the field. Even so the Czech researchers weren’t allowed to get too close – they were given books, studies and photo documentation – and only once were they allowed to take their own pictures of the warriors’ feet - from the sidelines. The dean of Baťa University, Tomáš Hlaváček, who headed the project said it was fascinating work. There were basically two types of footwear – very similar, both with leather straps but in the first model they had clearly been added as an afterthought – in the more advanced model they were already part of the cut. The boots were made of felt and leather and what struck the Czech team was that they were worn by warriors regardless of rank. The replicas were made with the same materials and technique as was used in the past – that is by stretching and molding the material rather than sewing individual pieces together. At the close of the year they will be displayed at Prague’s Lucerna Hall and are expected to receive as much attention as Oetzi the Ice-Man’s shoes did. It makes one wonder whose shoes we will see next – doubtless Tomáš Baťa would be proud of his successors in Zlín.


Water pipe smoking has been gaining popularity in recent years not just among young Czechs but also among the older generation, women and even non-smokers. “People first try smoking water pipes while traveling in the Arab world and then bring a pipe back as a souvenir,” says Petr Halamka who is doing good business selling water pipes and tobacco here in the Czech Republic. He ascribes their growing popularity to three factors – for one, people associate the feeling with their holiday and it makes them happy and relaxed, secondly – it helps people socialize. “You wouldn’t sit around smoking a water pipe by yourself,” he points out. And thirdly – people generally believe that smoking a water pipe is far less addictive and harmful than lighting up a cigarette – a misconception that has the health authorities ringing alarm bells.