A 19th century thrikhep, or throne cover, used by high lamas. The swirl in the middle is a "gankyil" or "Wheel of Joy."
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
So instead I'm doing that thing where I assert that clothing is also art, mostly because I found some interesting historical pictures:
These ladies, referred to by Westerners as the Dahomey Amazons, were actually called the Mino, "Our Mothers," in the local language. (Dahomey is the name of the region that became modern Benin.)
The Mino was founded in the mid to late 1600s by King Houegbadja of Dahomey to hunt elephants; by the 1800s, they had become regular military units.
Lest the whole business sound too exciting, remember that these folks did not work under modern humanitarian standards. Women were often forced into the regiments, either as prisoners of war or by disgruntled husbands/family members (we would more conventionally call this "slavery,") and could be as young as 8 years old (the forced recruitment of child soldiers is now something humanitarian organizations try to stop. Not to mention their habit of decapitating and dismembering their opponents, ISIS-style.
And an obituary for the king of Dahomey:
"The April 20, 1859 edition of the Macon Messenger  carried a short obituary notice for King Gezo stating, " The Richmond Dispatch says: His majesty, the King of Dahomey, the great negro seller of Africa, has departed this life. He was in the habit of ransacking all the neighboring African kingdoms, for the purpose of making captives, whom he sold to the slavers. At his funeral obsequies, his loving subjects manifested their sorrow by sacrificing eight hundred negroes to his memory. He is succeeded by his son, King Gezo II."
1. Marriages and Obituaries From the Macon Messenger; Willard R. Rocker 1988
Friday, April 17, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
This isn't exactly surprising, given the French Revolution theme, but it's always pleasing.
Also, a hearty hello to my visitors from everywhere else! You are all happily welcome. :)
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Friday, April 10, 2015
Ossian Receiving the Ghosts of Fallen French Heroes by Anne Louis Girodet, 1805.
In chapter 15 of A Midwinter Night's Revolution, (The Trolls' Revolt,) Jasper gives Madeleine a copy of Ossian, though I do not mention the book's title.
Ossian was one of the best-sellers of Jasper and Lyta's day, and its path to obscurity is a curious one. Back in 1760, Scottish poet James MacPherson claimed to have discovered a cycle of epic poems authored by an ancient Scottish bard, Ossian. In an age when Homer was still popular, Ossian caught on like wildfire, and was soon translated into French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Hungarian--and perhaps others.
In Goerthe's The Sorrows of Young Werther, Werther exclaims to a friend that, "Ossian has replaced Homer in my heart!" In France, Napoleon was an enthusiastic fan of the poems. The King of Sweden and Norway named his son Oscar (also king of Sweden and Norway) after a character from the poems.
Girodet, artist of the painting at the top of the post, studied under Jacques-Louis David, artist of The Oath of the Horatii. Said David of Girodet's work, "Either Girodet is mad or I no longer know anything of the art of painting."
Then something unfortunate happened. It turned out that Ossian probably wasn't real, and that MacPherson had actually written all of the poems himself. Normally people aren't too bothered by authors employing pen names, but in this case, everyone seems to have decided that if the poems weren't really ancient, then they just weren't worth reading.
Which is a pity, really, because I think they actually are quite good.