Thursday, April 30, 2015

Around the World with Art: Bhutan

"In 2006, based on a global survey, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world." Wikipedia

A 19th century thrikhep, or throne cover, used by high lamas. The swirl in the middle is a "gankyil" or "Wheel of Joy."

Human-shaped mushroom species discovered in Britain

The pictures are really cool!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Around the World with Art: Benin

The Wikipedia has a whole page on the Art of Benin, but it's not clear to me that the ancient Kingdom of Benin, which this art is from, is geographically connected to the modern country of Benin.

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 [1] 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

Oh, look--I just found the flag of the old Kingdom/Empire of Benin (again, probably not physically connected to modern Benin):

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ossian and Malvina

Ossian and Malvinia, by Johann Peter Krafft, 1810. (A much sedater composition than Girodet's.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Around the World with Art: Belize

Pyramids seen from the top of Caracol, Belize.

Photo source

Hello out there!

France continues to be the second most common country-of-origin for my visitors.

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

Apron Tuesday: Duck

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THAT DUCK? (Or goose, I can't tell.)

Okay, yes, I know, foie gras is probably what's happening.

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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Around the World With Art: Belgium

The inundation, 1871, by Hippolyte Boulenger

This painting is both awesome and depressing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Apron Tuesday

You know, I used to walk around with my spindle and distaff, until I accidentally whacked someone with the spindle. Now I just carry books.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Oh, sure, it looks like a pleasant little scene of nymphs cavorting with a satyr--until you realize they're dragging him into a lake, and satyrs can't swim.

Jasper does not approve.

Nymphs and Satyr, 1873, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

The thing I find most interesting, here, is Bacchus hanging out below the crucifix.