A Crown Fit For A King

This special crown, known as the Kiani Crown, is the traditional coronation crown during the Qajar dynasty of Iran (1796 – 1925). It is made from red velvet and literally thousands of jewels. We are talking 1,800 pearls, 1,800 rubies and spinels, and 300 emeralds. Plus an uncounted number of diamonds. All in all, a very impressive crown, which was designed to leave no doubt as to who the new ruler was.     Check out the portrait of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar in the image gallery. The second shah of Iran helped demonstrate his authority by wearing the Kiani Crown in one of his official portraits. Today it is owned by the Iranian government, as one of the crown jewels of Iran.

How To Distinguish An Empress Dowager

This pair of ornaments and headdress were likely once worn by the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), the effective ruler of China during the later years of the Qing Dynasty. Click through the image gallery to see all three.

All three are exquisite. They show how Chinese decoration and symbolism were used to express rank. The myriad of pearls and gemstones mark that the wearer is one of the highest ranking women in Chinese society, while the phoenixes emerging from the surface represent the empress dowager specifically. Put together, a Chinese person in the early 1900s would have known immediately who the wearer was, and how important they were.

Where Is It Illegal To Die?

In the 400s BCE, Athens forbade anyone to die or to give birth on the island of Delos, to render it fit for the proper worship of the gods. Since 1878, no births or deaths have been permitted near Japan’s Itsukushima Shrine, a sacred site in Shinto belief.     Death is still outlawed in some places today, but for more prosaic reasons. In 1999 the mayor of the Spanish town of Lanjarón outlawed death, again because of an overcrowded cemetery. His edict ordered residents “to take utmost care of their health so they do not die until town hall takes the necessary steps to acquire land suitable for our deceased to rest in glory.” The French settlements of Le Lavandou (in 2000), Cugnaux (in 2007), and Sarpourenx (in 2008) have all outlawed death because of limited capacity in local cemeteries. The Sarpourenx ordinance added: “Offenders will be severely punished.” In 2005 Roberto Pereira, mayor of the Brazilian town of Biritiba Mirim, proposed a ban on death because the local cemetery had reached its capacity -- although he was unsuccessful.    

The Iroquois Confederacy

It is long, but it is good. I promise. The Iroquois Confederacy, or as they called themselves, the Hodenosaunee, were an important pre-Columbian society and government. In fact, their democratic system had strong influence on today's US Constitution. But it was also a family-based system. Which is definitely NOT what today's US government is based on.

Why Do We Have A Seven-Day Week?

The seven-day week has no correspondence to astronomy -- unlike the presence of the sun giving us days, or phases of the moon giving us months. Historians generally think the seven-day week was "invented" by Mesopotamians and/or Jews. Both thought the number seven had mystic significance. Sumer had a (mostly) seven-day week system since at least the 21st century BCE. The Jewish weeks may have developed independently or been influenced by their Fertile Crescent neighbors.

From the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa the seven-day week spread around the Old World. The Greeks and Persians adopted the Babylonian system, and fro Persia it spread to India and China in various forms. In Japan, for instance, seven-day weeks were mainly used by specialist astrologers until the 1800s. In Europe, it was officially adopted by the Roman Empire in the 300s CE, but it was already in common use throughout the empire.

Sexism In The Symphony

Augusta Holmes (1847 - 1903) was the first woman to have an opera premiered in Paris. But the composer was so overlooked, thanks to her gender, that it was the 1990s before her work began being recorded. That's 90 years after she died!

The Cascading Mills of Folon and Picon

  The mills of Folon and Picon are a collection of 60 mills located on the slopes of Monte Campo do Couto, in the Spanish municipality of El Rosal, in the autonomous community of Galicia. The mills follow, one after the other down the slopes, all powered by the same water. The mills ground corn and wheat, and processed linen and wool, starting probably in the 1600s. None are still in operation. But they remain preserved, a piece of El Rosal's heritage.     The mills are built in two groups, as you can see in the pictures. The first group are the Folón Mills, 36 mills located on the slope of Folón over a stream which is also called Folón. Really inventive naming here, folks! The second group are the Picon Mills, 24 mills located nearby over the stream also called Picon.

Abraham Lincoln Doesn't Mind Being Called A Fool

In fact, his sense of humor greatly facilitated his sustained relations with the testy [Secretary of War Edwin M.Stanton and the pompous [Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P.Chase. For instance, when a delegation, which he had sent to Stanton with orders to grant their request, returned and reported that not only had Stanton refused to do so, but had actually called Lincoln a fool for sending such an order, Lincoln, with mock astonishment, inquired: “Did Stanton call me a fool?” – and, upon being reassured upon that point, remarked: “Well, I guess I had better go over and see Stanton about this. Stanton is usually right.”

Quoted from "Lincolns Humor" and Other Essays, by P. B. Thomas

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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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