What Is This?

It is a Japanese incense burner! Dating to the 1800s, the bug is made of iron and gold, with a silver-lined inside.

The World Looks On And Says It Is Well

Born a slave in Mississippi in 1862, just a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation and a few years before the end of slavery in her state, Ida B. Wells ended her life a prominent activist for women's rights and against lynching. She first worked as a teacher, in Mississippi and then in Memphis, Tennessee where the pay was higher. While in Memphis, Wells began writing for newspapers around issues of civil rights and segregation.

In 1892, in a mixed-race Memphis neighborhood, a grocery store was set up by three free black businessmen: Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart. Their stores was somewhat successful and it drew customers away from a white-owned grocery store nearby. The white store owner and his supporters clashed with the three men on a few occasions, to the point that they guarded their store each night. One such night the violence escalated, and thirty black men were arrested in the ensuing confusion. Moss, McDowell, and Stewart were never given a chance to defend themselves in court. A mob dragged them from the jail and shot them in the street.

This event helped inspire Ida B. Wells to fight against lynching, a campaign which she championed for the rest of her life. It was not a welcome message in Tennessee. Wells received many death threats, and she had to move from Memphis to Chicago in 1893 for her own safety.

The title of this post is the last line of an anti-lynching article, written by Wells in 1900 in Chicago, entitled "Lynch Law in America."

Why Is Nepal's Flag Not Like Other Flags?

The flag of Nepal is in the shape of two pennants, one sewn on top of the other. They symbolize the Rana dynasty's two branches, which ruled the country from 1846 to 1951. In the 1800s, the two red pennants were joined to represent the nation of Nepal, and in 1962 the conjoined form was officially adopted by Nepal's constitutional government. To the Nepalese today, the flag symbolizes the country's two religions -- Hinduism and Buddhism -- living side by side.

Pennants like Nepal's flag used to be common for regional flags in Asia. But the rectangular flag, common in European countries, eventually took hold around the world, replacing regional symbols of allegiance.

Eighteen for Eighteen

In eighteen years of military service, Napoleon Bonaparte had eighteen horses shot out from under him!

Lincoln's Voice Didn't Match His Frame

Abraham Lincoln's voice, according to contemporaries, was high-pitched, reedy, and shrill.

A Very Victorian Fear

Hans Christian Anderson, the children’s author, had a typical fear for the Victorian era. He was very afraid of being buried alive. To make sure no one mistook his sleeping body for a dead body, Anderson slept with a note on his bedside table that read “I only appear to be dead.” History does not record if anyone ever read the note.

The Moon Star Flag: How Turkey’s Flag Came To Be

The Turkish national flag is mostly red, with a white star and a crescent in the center. Ottoman Sultan Selim III formalized the look in 1793, but the flag is actually much older.

The crescent-and-star combination has been used in Turkey since Hellenistic times (400s to 100 BCE). It likely came from ancient Mesopotamian iconocraphy. Ancient depictions of the symbol always show the crescent with horns pointing upward and with the star placed inside the crescent, for reasons that have been lost to time. When it came to Turkey, they gave it their own meanings. For Byzantium the moon symbolized Diana, also known as Artemis, the patron goddess of the city.

In 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the flag remained unchanged. With time, it became not just Istanbul’s flag but the Ottoman flag, with its design formalized in 1793 and its status as national flag formalized in 1844. Turks affectionately call the flag "ay yildiz" -- the "moon star" flag.

Many nations that were once part of Ottoman Empire adopted the star-and-crescent when they gained independence, including Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. In the 1900s the symbol became associated with not just the Ottomans, but with Islam in general, and many states that were never part of the Ottoman Empire adopted it too, including Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Maldives. Pretty amazing that an ancient Mesopotamian symbol is flown around the world today.

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    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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