Friday, February 27, 2015

Medieval Households: The Napery

The napery was a room (or perhaps closet) where linens were kept, such as tablecloths and sheets. They were often washed here, as well, though the Laundry might be a separate room.

The head of the napery was the naperer. The surname Napier derives from association with this office, or the production of tablecloths.

The word "apron" was originally "napron." People saying, "A napron," accidentally said, "An apron," until the habit stuck. Napron came from the French "naperon," or "small table cloth," eymologically related, yes, to the napery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

English spelling is dumb

What do you mean it's not spelled "satyrizing"?

*grumble*grumble*grumble*

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Apron Tuesday

A series of aprons, running on Tuesdays.

Color lithograph made ​​by Auguste Bry of Pyrenees peasants. I'm not sure of the date, but it looks 1800s or early 1900s to me (I know it's public domain.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Study: Climate-driven introduction of the Black Death and successive plague reintroductions into Europe

"The Black Death, originating in Asia, arrived in the Mediterranean harbors of Europe in 1347 CE, via the land and sea trade routes of the ancient Silk Road system. This epidemic marked the start of the second plague pandemic, which lasted in Europe until the early 19th century. This pandemic is generally understood as the consequence of a singular introduction of Yersinia pestis, after which the disease established itself in European rodents over four centuries. To locate these putative plague reservoirs, we studied the climate fluctuations that preceded regional plague epidemics, based on a dataset of 7,711 georeferenced historical plague outbreaks and 15 annually resolved tree-ring records from Europe and Asia. We provide evidence for repeated climate-driven reintroductions of the bacterium into European harbors from reservoirs in Asia, with a delay of 15 ± 1 y. Our analysis finds no support for the existence of permanent plague reservoirs in medieval Europe."

From, "Climate-driven introduction of the Black Death and successive plague reintroductions into Europe" by Boris V. Schmida, Ulf Büntgenb, W. Ryan Easterdaya, Christian Ginzlerb, Lars Walløee, Barbara Bramantia, and Nils Chr. Stensetha. Go read it!

Yes history science.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Pikaborb

Once upon a time, a herd of hungry bulborbs were hunting pikmin:

When they encountered a herd of pikachus:

The bulborbs and pikachus decided to be friends:

And so, the Pikaborb was born:

Yes, I made it! It is also a puppet and has a real "tummy" to put devoured pikmin into:

Another view:

Around the World with Art: Bahrain

Archways in the Fort of Bahrain (photograph by Joel Sison, Creative Commons License.) The Fort was inhabited from 2300 BC up to the 18th century.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Around the World with Art: Bahamas

We've reached the Bs! I've decided to feature a musical piece today.

Exuma: The Obeah Man, 1970, by Exuma (aka Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Around the World with Art: Azerbaijan

Painting on the wall of Khan palace in Shaki, Azerbaijan, by Usta Gambar Karabakhi, sometime in the mid to late 1800s.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Around the World with Art: Austria

The Expected, by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1860.

From the same artist:

The Schönberg seen from Hoisernradalpe, 1833.


Prater Landscape, 1830.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Around the World with Art: Australia

Warriors in Ambush series 49 Aboriginal Mystic Bora Ceremony, ca. 1900-1927, from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales. Photographed by Kerry and Co., but I have not been able to find out the artists' names.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Favorite Botticelli

Mars and Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, 1483.

Jasper has been here.

A Valentine's Mosaic

Okay, it's probably not actually a Byzantine Valentine. But we can pretend it is.

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Favorite Russian Portrait: Annushka

From the Wkipedia "Annushka was a pupil and a serf of Varvara Sheremetev. In her hands she holds the portrait of her late benefactor." Annushka hails from the Kalmyk people, a group of Mongols living in a region now split between Russia, China, and Mongolia.

If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that Annushka has been my icon since the beginning of this blog.

She was painted by Ivan Argunov, who also painted portraits of people like Empress Catherine II:

An acquaintance recently asked why I chose Annushka for my avatar.

1. Because she's lovely and I love her clothes.
2. Because she's from the time period I write about, the Era of Revolution.
3. Because the Mongols and other peoples of the Eurasian Steppes and their lifestyles and history are another of my favorite historical topics, that I hope to write well about someday.
4. As I am fond of saying, history is more complicated than we often imagine. Here we find the same clothing styles being worn by colonists in the New World and Mongols in Russia.
5. I love to contemplate the mix and evolution of cultures.

The same artist also painted this lovely portrait of an "Unknown Peasant":

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tide Predicting Machines

This lovely machine was built by Lord Kelvin in 1872-3, an early analogue computer.

Check out this German tide predicting machine! It turns out that predicting the tides is actually very difficult--"Tides are still one of the most difficult problems which modern geophysics has to deal with. Research institutes involved in tidal prediction are equipped with top of the range, high capacity computers."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Around the World with Art: Armenia

Among the Waves, by Ivan Aivazovsky, mid to late 1800s.

The Ninth Wave, by Aivazovsky, 1850.

Descent of Noah from Ararat, 1889, National Gallery of Armenia, Aivazovsky.

Portrait of Aivazovsky by Alexey Tyranov, 1841.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Around the World with Art: Argentina

I couldn't find this picture's title, but it is a scene of everyday life in Argentina painted by Carlos Morel, considered, "The First Argentine Painter".

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dance of the Fairies II

Dance of the Fairies, Act II.I, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Set design by the Grieve family of London, 1800s.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dance of the Fairies

Theseus's Palace: The Dance of the fairies, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V, Finale. Set design by the Grieve family of London.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Around the World with Art: Albania

This is actually a mosaic made with teeny tiny pieces, from about 1850. The mosaic's artist was most likely Italian, but the clothes were designed and created by an Albanian artist.

From the Micromosaics Gallery.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Around the World with Art: Afghanistan

I intend to showcase an artwork or two from each country in the world, just for fun.

The world's oldest oil paintings have been found in a cave in Afghanistan. They were painted around the 7th century CE, and contain swirling patterns, Buddhist images, and mythological creatures.

Today, Afghan artist Samiullah is painting lovely pictures of flowers, despite having lost 9 of his fingers in the conflicts enveloping his country.

I hope you take a look.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Benefits of being an Argentine Werewolf

According to Werewolf Page (I have no idea if they are a reliable source or not, but I like the story too much not to share it and you can tell me if you have information on it being false,) Argentine legend says that a family's 7th son will become a werewolf.

And back in the early 1900s, when larger families were more common, enough people were concerned about this that there was apparently a problem of people abandoning their 7th sons. So the president of Argentina passed a law declaring himself the godfather of all 7th sons born in Argentina. They each receive a gold medal and educational scholarships until their 21st birthdays, which is a pretty good deal.

The law worked, and parents stopped abandoning their 7th sons. Even today, Argentine presidents still attend at least some of their werewolf godchildrens' baptisms.