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!

The Country of a Million Rice Fields

King Mangrai ruled a kingdom in today's northern Thailand in the late 1200s. Called Lan Na, or "the country of a million rice fields," it is mainly known today for its capital city of Chiang Mai. Founded in 1296 by King Mangrai, the city had a number of auspicious attributes. Presiding over the city was the scared mountain of Doi Suthep, to the west, and the Ping River flowed through the city before joining the Nan River to the south. After its founding by King Mangrai, the city attracted traders and the prosperity that follows. It became known as the 'city of 12 languages.' A moniker that conveys wealth and a cosmopolitan flair. Lan Na was the local hub for the rich surrounding countryside and hill villages, and goods produced there were sent south along the Ping River to be sold in the great city of Ayutthaya and beyond.

Prosperity brings its own problems, though. Burmese king Bayinnaung marched into Chiang Mai as a conqueror in 1558, and that was the end of Lan Na. But its beautiful remains continue to attract tourists.

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.

Did You Know Jews Thrived In Ming China?

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) a population of Jews immigrated into the heart of China and lived as just another obscure, minor religion. There is poor documentation, but there what records exist show Jews worked as army officers, mandarin bureaucrats, tax inspectors, and school inspectors.

That is rare considering during this same period Jews were often persecuted as an unwanted group elsewhere: to name a few examples, Jews were expelled from France twice (1306 and 1394), forced to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain (1492), and heavily taxed and punished for inciting unrest in Egypt (1324).

The Curious Case of the Ossabaw Island Pigs

Pigs came to Ossabaw Island, a small barrier reef off the coast of Georgia, with Spanish explorers at the beginning of the 1500s. Like the Spanish they were an invasive species. When a few were left behind they quickly became feral, evolving to expertly forage the scant food options, drink water with a high salt content, and stay small so they did not need too many calories. Their insular dwarfism means a full-grown female can weigh as little as 100 pounds. Another adaptation to Ossabaw Island: they developed an amazing ability to store fat. No other non-domesticated animals is as efficient. Unfortunately, their high fat content also comes with fat-related health issues, including diabetes and heart disease.

What kills them young may also have saved them. In the early 2000s, the animals were considered a menace to native populations of sea turtles on the largely undeveloped Ossabaw Island to the point that Georgian conservationist authorities contemplated eradicating them. But scientists and chefs stepped in: scientists wanted to study them as a stand-in for human heart disease and diabetes, and chefs discovered that high-fat pigs meant delicious pork. The Ossabaw Island pigs have been saved -- by being eaten.

Ritual axe decorated with skulls and crown motifs. The handle and axehead are glass, and the rest is gilded bronze. The axe was likely to cut through delusions or sever psychological attachments to the worldly life, allowing one to spiritually evolve.

From the town of Derge in the Kham region (today's Tibet). 1500s - 1600s CE.

A Quickly-Changing Word

The word "nice" originally mention "foolish". In the 1400s, the word came to mean "coy," then in the 1500s, "fastidious." By the 1700s, nice had assumed its modern meaning.

Early Globalization In One Object

Ming Vase (circa 1540-1550) with Chinese designs on the stem and a Portuguese armillary sphere on the body.

A Beautiful, Classic Example of Ethiopian Manuscript Art

You can see on this leaf, John the Evangelist has already copied John 1:1-2 in Ge'ez. It comes from a gospel book, all written in Ge'ez, the traditional language for worship in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. This particular manuscript, dating to the 1st half of the 1500s, is exceptionally well-preserved and represents the golden age of what has been termed the Gunda Gunde style of Ethiopian manuscripts.

The Gunda Gunde style is characterized by bold blocks of color defined by detailed and often delicate linear motifs. Figures are highly stylized and expressive, like John the Evangelist on this page. And around the figures are beautiful geometric and interlaced designs, like the chair that John is sitting upon

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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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