Figure of a Standing Beauty

  This lovely lady was crafted between 1670 and 1690 in Japan. She is dressed in a fashionable outfit of the day; she is draped in several layers of kimono, which are belted at the waist with a black obi. Her face has a jovial expression. While one foot is slightly revealed at the hem of her garment, her hands are held demurely by her body. Depictions of such bijin, or beautiful ladies, were becoming popular in Japan at this time in the newly budding art form of ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world." The leaders in fashion were typically residents of the pleasure districts. So beautiful figures such as this were often styled based on them.

How Big Was That Empire?

Now you can compare all the largest empires that have ever existed, by geographic area. Thank you modern geography!

The Great Hare: An Algonquin Trickster Who Helped Create The World

Nanabozho is a prominant trickster figure, found in most Algonquin tribes' belief system. Stories about him vary considerably from tribe to tribe. His parents change, he is sometimes given siblings, and stories about his deeds would fill a book. Nicknamed "the Great Hare" although he is rarely shown as a rabbit, Nanabozho is a transformer figure, a creator and provider of food and representative of the various life force(s). Although a bit of a trickster figure, Nanabozho is not truly immoral or even seriously inappropriate. He is viewed as a virtuous hero and friend of humankind who happens to have a mischievous side.

There's so much contradictory information about Nanabozho so that is where I will stop. If you want to read some of the many tales about Nanabozho, here is a list to get you started.

The Precursor to Modern Sign Language

The first modern sign language for the hearing impaired is credited to Pedro Ponce de Leon, a Spanish Benedictine monk who lived in the 1500s. Native Americans had long used hand gestures to communicate with other tribes and to facilitate trade with Europeans. Inspired, de Leon adapted the gestures used at his monastery to create a method to teach the deaf to communicate.

de Leon's first success was with Gaspard Burgos, a deaf man who, because of his difficulty with oral communication, had been denied membership in the Benedictine order. Under de Leon's tutelage, Burgos learned to speak so that he could make his confession. Burgos later wrote a number of books. de Leon went on to teach a number of other individuals how to speak and write, using his sign language, but his exact methods of teaching have been lost to history.

It took another Spanish cleric building on his work, one Juan Pablo Bonet, to write the first surviving work on educating individuals with hearing disabilities. Titled "Summary of the letters and the art of teaching speech to the mute" it was published in Madrid in 1620. However, both de Leon and Bonet focused on teaching the deaf to speak and write, and their sign languages were systems used to facilitate that. Their manual systems were not true "languages" with grammar and syntax.

Pathologic mandibular prognathism, or "Habsburg jaw" is a deformity where the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw. In other words the person has a big chin. It most famously appeared in the Habsburg family, but it exists in the bloodlines of many other royal families of Europe, perhaps first appearing in Vlad the Impaler!

Whiro, Lord of Darkness

In Maori mythology, Whiro is the embodiment of darkness and evil. He is the son of the sky father and earth mother, and brother and enemy of Tāne, god of the forests and birds. After a long and bitter war between the brothers, Tāne was victorious. Whiro and his followers were forced to go to the underworld where he reigns.

But Whiro is not quietly retired. He is viewed as a relentlessly active god, always trying to harm humans as they are the descendants of Tāne, especially through his Maike brethren, the personified forms of sickness and disease. Many offerings were made to Whiro, unsurprisingly.

A Shady Portrait Of The Greatest English Playwrite(s)

"Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare Playing at Chess." Unfortunately, this painting's authenticity has been subject to debate for more than a century. It became widely known only in 1878, when the painting was purchased for $18,000 by Colonel Ezra Miller; note this is more than two hundred years after both its subjects were dead. Already suspicious. Then, the authenticating documents were lost in a fire 17 years later. Meaning investigation of the documents, and modern forensic analyses, are impossible.

Supporters claim that it was painted by Karel van Mander (1548-1606), and in the best possible case, the painting would give us new likenesses of Jonson and Shakespeare painted by a contemporary. But a biography of van Mander, probably written by his brother, makes no mention of this painting, nor of the artist ever visiting London. Further, Shakespeare here appears younger than Jonson, but in fact he was eight or nine years older.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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