Han purple was an ancient Chinese pigment which is thought to have been created as early as 800 BCE, but the most famous examples of its use date back to around 220 BCE when it was used to paint the Terracotta Army and murals in the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang at Xi’an. It peaked in usage during the Han Dynasty, then declined, and then vanished from the historical record entirely -- along with knowledge of how to make the color.
It was not until the 1990s that scientists were able to replicate it. The process to make the copper barium silicate pigment was extremely intricate. For one thing, it involved the grinding of precise quantities of various materials. And for another, it required heating to between 900 and 1,100 degrees Celsius. Amazing that the process was discovered so long ago!
The Dulong people are a minority group in China who live in a historically inaccessible area in the Yunnan Province. (A highway built in late 1999 now makes it reachable to the outside world.) It was a tradition for Dulong girls to get a face tattoo when they began puberty, a tradition called “Hua Lian” (“painting the face”) or “Wen Mian” (“tattooing the face").
In the areas along the upper and middle reaches of the Dulong River, the tattoos were a complex pattern of connecting diamonds down the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks and mouth. In the lower reaches, the designs were much simpler. All tattoos were butterfly shaped as they believed that the dead turned into butterflies when they passed. How the Dulong tradition began is unknown. Some speculate that it was so that Dulong women were less attractive as slaves, as Tibetan landlords used to demand families who could not pay taxes would pay in daughters instead.
Unfortunately, the tradition is dying. It almost completely ended after 1949 and the founding of the communist state. Today, there are fewer than 30 women alive with traditional Dulong tattoos.
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.
At its height in 1803, the British East India Company had a private army of about 260,000 men. That was twice the size of the British Army at the time.
A finger bone from the Al Wusta site in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia is once again changing how we think about the human migration out of Africa. The finger bone dates to 85,000 to 90,000 years ago. That makes it the oldest homo sapiens fossil ever found outside of Africa and the Levant. Before the discovery of the finger bone, it was believed that humans migrated out of those areas about 60,000 years ago. The new discovery suggests it may have happened earlier.
In Chinese superstition, a chestnut dangling from a branch provokes fear. The character for "lì" means both "chestnut" and "afraid, trembling."
Bust of Ptolemy of Mauretania. He was the grandson of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony, son of their daughter Cleopatra Selene, queen of Mauretania. He was last Roman client king of Mauretania before it was completely incorporated as a Roman province. Bust is circa 1st century CE.
Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakh means “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers.”
Now you can compare all the largest empires that have ever existed, by geographic area. Thank you modern geography!
After [a] ruse in Peru was revealed, [Clifford] Weman was sent home and in 1921 adopted the role of an official of the U.S. State Department. It was in this guise that he came to the rescue of Princess Fatima of Afghanistan, whose visit to the United States, he read, had not been given any official recognition. Determined to give the princess her due, he swept into her suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and, on behalf of Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, apologized for the poor reception she had received in America. He promised to take Her Royal Highness to Washington to meet the secretary and the president. All he would need from her was $10,000 to pay for the gifts he said foreign dignitaries traditionally gave to officials in the nation’s capital.
Weyman took part of the money and rented a private railroad car to escort Princess Fatima and her party to Washington. When they arrived, he dropped the Afghans off at the Willard Hotel and hurried over to the State Department, dressed as a naval officer. He told an official there that he had been sent by several senators, whom he named, to arrange a visit for the princess with Secretary of State Hughes. Her Highness was accorded all the diplomatic niceties, and during the encounter Weyman took Hughes aside and told him that the princess also wished to meet President Warren Harding. A phone call was made to the White House and a meeting hastily arranged. There Weyman chatted familiarly with the president, something a naval officer would never do, and nudged his way into the photographs Harding took with the princess. This of course raised suspicions, but Weyman had slipped away before his fraud was uncovered.