Corrado Cagli: “The Battle of San Marino”

Corrado Cagli, “The battle of San Marino”, 1936, Encaustic Tempera on Hollow-Core Wood, 545 x 651 cm,  Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

Born in the city of Ancona in February of 1910, Corrado Cagli was an Italian painter of Jewish heritage. Little information on his formative years is available; however, it is known that, at the age of five, his family relocated to Rome. Cagli grew up in a largely assimilated secular family, who had come to terms with its Jewish religion as antisemitism became more aggressive in Fascist Italy. His ties to his Italian heritage were always strong; even in his later years of exile from Italy, it was important for him to maintain a tie with his birth nation. 

Corrado Cagli helped organize the Gallleria La Cometa in Rome and, along with poet Libero De Libero, created an artistic circle of musicians, writers, architects, painters and sculptors. He was involved with New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1949 exhibition, “20th Century Italian Art” and facilitated the 1950 opening of the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York City. Cagli was awarded the Guggenheim Prize in 1946 and, in 1954, the Marzotto Prize, given by the Marzotto fashion company for his contributions to the cultural rebirth of Italy after the war. Corrado Cagli died in Rome in 1976.

Corrado Cagli’s “Battle of San Marino” depicts the final battle of the Second War of Independence in which the Piedmont army, directed by King Vittorio Emanuele and supported by the French troops of Napoleon III, defeated in a fierce battle the Austrian forces commanded by Emperor Franz Joseph I. The battle is considered the founding moment of the Italian Risorgimento, the period leading to unification and the formation of the new state of Italy. 

The battle scene, depicted from a bird’s eye perspective, with the hectic confusion of weapons, horses, infantry and knights crushed together amid the surrounding hillsides, clearly highlights Cagli’s relationship with traditional painting styles, with influences ranging from Paolo Uccello to Piero della Francesca. Owned by Francesco Muzzi, secretary of the Cagli Foundation, and graciously loaned to the Uffizi in 1978, it was finally donated to the Uffizi Gallery in 2003.

Note: An interview between author Raffaele Bedarida and Alessandro Cassin, Director of Centro Primo Levi, entitled “Corrado Cagli, the American Years” can be found online at Printed_Matter located at: http://primolevicenter.org/printed-matter/corrado-cagli-the-american-years/

John Warner Barber: “Death of Capt. Ferrer”

John Warner Barber, “The Death of Capt. Ferrer”, 1840, Etching, Frontpiece from the “A History of the Amistad Captives”, Unfolded 22.9 x 49.3 cm, Partially Hand-Colored, Private Collection 

Born in East Windsor, Connecticut in February of 1798, John Warner Barber was an engraver and historian whose books of local, state, and national history featured his colorful  illustrations. He learned his craft as an apprentice to East Windsor printmaker Abner Reed, who also was a bank note engraver for the United States and Canada. In 1823, Barber opened a business in New Haven, where he printed religious and historical books, illustrated with his own steel and wood engravings. 

Barber traveled throughout Connecticut, creating ink sketches of town greens, churches, hotels and harbors; he also researched local histories on his travels. From his research, Barber produced in 1836 what is considered the first popular local history book published in the United States, the “Connecticut Historical Collections, Containing a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, Etc. . .”. His pencil sketches were developed into more detailed wash drawings, which in turn were transferred directly to small blocks of boxwood on which he engraved the designs. The book sold well, seven thousand copies in the first year at a cost of what was then an average week’s pay.

In 1840, John W. Barber produced his thirty-two page “ A History of the Amistad Captives: Being a Circumstantial Account of the Capture of the Spanish Schooner Amistad, by the Africans on Board; Their Voyage, and Capture Near Long Island, New York; with Biographical Sketches of Each of the Surviving Africans, Also, an Account of the Trials , , , Compiled from Authentic Sources”. Documenting one of the most important events of its time, Barber’s  book was published the same year of the Amistad trial and its ruling by the New Haven court.

In February of 1839, Portuguese slave hunters abducted hundreds of Africans from what is now present-day Sierra Leone and transported them to Cuba, then a Spanish colony. Spanish plantation owners Pedro Montes and Jose Ruiz purchased fifty-three of the African captives as slaves, forty-nine adult males and four children. On June 28th, Montes and Ruiz with the African captives set sail from Havana on the Amistad, Spanish for ‘friendship’, for their plantations on Puerto Principe.

Several days into the journey, Sengbe Pieh, one of the Africans also known as Joseph Cinque, managed to unshackle himself and his fellow captives. Armed with knives, they seized control of the Amistad and killed the Spanish captain and the ship’s cook. In need of navigation, the Africans ordered Montes and Ruiz to return to Africa; however, the two men  changed the ship’s course in the middle of the night, sailed through the Caribbean and up the eastern coast of the United States. 

On August 26th of 1839, the U.S. Navy brig Washington found the ship anchored off the coast of Long Island to get provisions. The naval officers seized the Amistad, put the Africans back in chains, and escorted the ship to Conneticut, where they would claim salvage rights to the ship and its human cargo. Originally charged with murder and piracy, Cinque and the other Africans were imprisoned in New Haven. Though the charges were dropped, they remained in prison while the courts decided their legal status, as well as the competing property claims by the Washington’s officers, Montes and Ruiz, and the Spanish government. 

In January of 1840, a judge in U.S. District Court in Hartford ruled that the Africans were not Spanish slaves, but had been illegally captured, and should be returned to Africa. After appealing the decision to the Circuit Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision, the U.S. attorney appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case in ealry 1841. 

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled seven to one to uphold the lower courts’ decisions in favor of the Africans of the Amistad. However, the court did not require the government to provide funds for the Africans’ return voyage, but did award salvage rights for the Amistad to the officers who apprehended it. In November of 1841 after abolitionists raised money for the return voyage, Cinque and the surviving thirty-four Africans of the Amistad, the others either died at sea or in prison awaiting trial, sailed from New York aboard the ship Gentleman to return to their homeland.

James Warner Barber attended the court hearings between January 7th and 13th in 1840 when Judge Andrew Johnson rule that the Africans were illegally transported to Cuba, and thus would not be returned to Montes and Ruis. On the first of April, Barber began drawing the Amistad Africans in jail and, over the next two months, would create drawings and engravings to illustrate his book. Barber drew portraits, from which he engraved silhouettes of the Africans, and added other illustrations to his book, including a map of the Mendi country, home of the Amistad Africans.

Horus

Photographer Unknown, Horus

Horus, in the ancient Egyptian religion, was one of the most important deities. The god appeared in the form of a falcon, whose left eye was the moon, representing healing, and whose right eye was the sun, representing power and the intrinsic substance of the heavenly bodies. Falcon cults were evident in late predynastic times and became widespread throughout Egypt. 

In the beginning stages of Egypt’s ancient religion, Horus was believed to be the god of war and the sky. As the religion progressed, Horus was seen as the son of Osiris and Isis, the divine child of the holy family triad. He is depicted as a falcon wearing a crown with a cobra, and later, wearing the Double Crown of the united Upper and Lower Egypt. The hooded cobra, worn by the gods and pharaohs on their foreheads, symbolized light and royalty. 

One of the oldest cultures in human history, ancient Egyptians are well-known for pioneering the fields of art, medicine, and the documentation of discoveries as mythological tales. The Egyptians mastered the integration of anatomy and mythology into artistic symbols and figures. The Eye of Horus was used as a sign of prosperity and protection, derived from the myth of Isis and Osiris. Comprised of six different parts, each an individual symbol, the Eye of Horus has an astonishing connection between neuroanatomical structure and function.

For those interested in the possible scientific speculation of the ingenuity of ancient Egyptians’ insight into human anatomy and physiology, a treatise, entitled “The Eye of Horus” by Karim ReFaey, Gabriella C. Quinones, William Clifton, and others can be found at the Cureus site, located at:https://www.cureus.com/articles/19443-the-eye-of-horus-the-connection-between-art-medicine-and-mythology-in-ancient-egypt

British Pathé, “RMS Titanic”: Film History Series

 

Artist Unknown, Titanic Moored at Dock, Gifs, British Pathé, 1912

These three colorized gifs were taken from the beginning of a film, jointly owned by British Pathé and Gaumont Newsreels, containing known footage of the RMSTitanic. Slightly different versions of this film are held by British Movietone and the National Film and Television Archive.

The three gifs depict the Titanic moored, probably on April 2nd of 1912, at the Thompson Graving Dock on Queen’s Island in Belfast, where the RMS Titanic was fitted out. In these shots, men can be seen walking beside the ship and smoke is seen issuing from the third funnel of the Titanic.

The British Pathé’s newsreel, just over six minutes in length,  covers several episodes in the story of the RMS Titanic’s final days. The captain of the RMS Titanic, Edward J. Smith, who perished when the ship sank, is shown on board the RMS Olympic, before assuming duty on the Titanic. Newsreel footage of icebergs and ice floes are shown to portray the scene of the disaster. Scenes of the rescue ship, Carpathia, nearing New York City with survivors, and scenes of the departing search and rescue vessel, Mackay Bennet, also are included in this Pathé footage.

At the forefront of cinematic journalism, British Pathé was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in England. The company blended information with entertainment for movie theater attendees who came to watch the news. Over the course of its sixty years, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and international political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people.

British Pathé’s roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères  was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. In 1908, the company invented the cinema newsreel with its introduction of the Pathé-Journal and opened a newsreel office on Wardour Street, London, in 1910. These early silent  newsreels, issued every two weeks and running about four minutes in length, were shown in local theaters; sound was introduced beginning in 1928. The Pathé newsreels captured events such as suffragette Emily Danison’s fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby and Franz Reichelt’s fatal descent by parachute from the Eiffel Tower in February of 1912.

Considered now to be the finest newsreel archive in the world, British Pathé is a treasure trove of eighty-five thousand films unmatched in their historical and cultural significance. The company also represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than one hundred thirty-six thousand items from the following news agencies: Gaumont Graphic, active from 1910 to 1932; Empire News Bulletin, a film library from 1926 to 1930;  British Paramount,  a collection spanning from 1931 to 1957; and Gaumont British’s collection  from 1934 to 1959. Included in Pathés vast library of film is the collected content from the Visnews service active from 1957 until the end of 1984.

The full footage of British Pathé’s Titanic black and white newsreel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05o7sOAjtXE

All footage can be viewed on the British Pathé website. https://www.britishpathe.com/

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

Between 1899 and 1914, the Mathildenhöhe (Mathilda Heights) of Darmstadt, a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, was the site of the legendary Artists’ Colony. It was founded by the young and ambitious Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, who was the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and brother to Alexandra who married Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia. 

Grand Duke Ludwig was determined to turn his state into a cradle of modern design and art on the highest level. To attain this goal, he commissioned some of the most talented artists of the time to become members of the Colony, including Vienna’s distinguished architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, one of the Vienna Secession founders, and self-taught Peter Behrens, who would become Germany’s top architect in the decade to follow. 

Situated close to the city centre, the Artists’ Colony became a sensational experimental field for artistic innovations in which the sovereign and a group of young artists realized their vision of a fusion of art and life. Their intention was to revolutionize architecture and interior design in order to create a modern living culture with an integration of both housing and work space. The whole human life-style was to be reformed to gain in beauty and happiness as well as in simplicity and functionality.

Beginning during a period when art existed for the sake of its beauty alone, the progress of the Artists’ Colony was slow; however, after 1901, the program gradually became more rational and realistic. This change was evident, among other things, in the numerous buildings created on the Mathildenhöhe from 1900 to 1914. Though at first the artists concentrated on the construction of private villas, they later created apartment houses and workers’ homes in an effort to face the arising questions of their time’s life and housing.

The ensemble of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony is considered today to be one of the most impressive records of the dawning of modern art. Its appearance is still marked primarily by the buildings of the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, who notably created the remarkable silhouette of the Colony, facing the city of Darmstadt, with his Wedding Tower and the Exhibition Building, both completed in 1908. 

The Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt is basically an open-air museum where the artwork is present in the form of its buildings, fountains and sculptures. At the same time, Joseph  Olbrich’s 1901 Ernst-Ludwig House, the former studio house and spiritual centre of the artists’ colony, is now a museum that presents fine and decorative art from the members of the artists’ colony. The unique integrity of the building complex is today a first-class cultural attraction, and the lively. contemporary centre of the Darmstadt’s cultural landscape. 

Note: The original Artists’ Colony group, headed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, included painter, decorative artist, and architect Peter Behrens; decorator Hans Christiansen; decorator Patriz Huber; sculptor Ludwig Habich; visual artist Rudolf Bosselt; and decorative painter Paul Bürck. Between 1904 and 1907, the group was joined by ceramicist Jakob j Scharvogel, glass blower Josef Emil Schneckendorf, and book craftsman Friedrich W Kleukens. 

After Joseph Olbrich’s death in 1908, architect and designer Albin Müller led the group. Under Müller’s leadership, the group expanded with majolica craftsman Bernhard Hoetger, goldsmiths Ernst Riegel and Theodore Wende, and Emanuel Margold, a student of painter Hans Hoffman.

Osiris-Antinous

Artist Unknown, “Osiris-Antinous”, 117-138 AD, Parian Marble, 241 x 77 x 79 cm, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City, Italy

This marble statue represents the Bithynian Greek youth Antinous, the favorite of Emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus. Born in the city of Claudiopolis, in now north-west Turkey, in November between 110 and 12 AD, according to early sources, Antinous was most likely the son of farmers or merchants. Having been taught to read and write, he would have had a basic education as a child.

Although little is known in surviving records about Antinous’s life, it is likely he first met Emperor Hadrian in June of 123 AD, during Hadrian’s visit to Claudiopolis while touring the Roman Empire. It is probable, due to Antinous’s young age, that Hadrian sent him to Italy, where he most likely was schooled at the paedgagium, the school to train young men as servants for the imperial palace, located at the Caelian Hill. Hadrian continued his tour of the Empire, returning to Italy in September of 125 AD, when he settled at his villa in Tibur. 

It was within three years that Antinous became Hadrian’s personal favorite, for Antinous was known to be in Hadrian’s personal retinue on his journey to Greece in 128 AD. It is known that Hadrian believed Antinous to be intelligent, and they both shared a love of hunting, which was seen as a manly pursuit in Roman culture. Early sources are explicit that the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous was sexual; and there is no evidence that Antinous ever exploited Hadrian for personal or political gain. 

In April of 128, Emperor Hadrian laid the foundation stone for a temple to Venus and Rome in the city of Rome, likely accompanied at the ritual by Antinous. From the middle of 128 to late September or early October of 130, Hadrian and Antinous, with an entourage, traveled to Greece, Syria, Arabia, Judaea, Libya, Alexandria, and Egypt, where they assembled at Heliopolis to set sail upstream as part of a flotilla along the Nile River. On their journey up the river, Hadrian and Antinous stopped at the Hermopolis Magna, the primary shrine to the god Thoth, leader of the eight principal deities of Egypt. 

In October of 130, during the period for the festival to Osiris, Antinous fell into the river, his death most likely resulting from drowning. Hadrian was devastated by the death; the local priesthood immediately deified Antinous, identifying him with Osiris due to the manner of his death. In keeping with Egyptian custom, Antinous’s body was mummified by priests and interred the following year, most likely, at Hadrian’s estate in Tibur, Italy, where an inscribed obelisk was erected.

Although the public and formal divination of humans was reserved for the Emperor and members of the imperial family, Hadrian declared Antinous a god and created a formal cult devoted to him, which was highly unusual and done without permission of the Senate. The cult  of Antinous spread through the Empire, especially between 133 and 138, the year of Hadrian’s death, with some seeing Antinous as hero or god, and into Egypt, where Antinous was seen primarily as a benevolent god who could aid and cure his worshipers.

Note: The iconographic model of “Osiris-Antinous”, shown above, was intended to express the regal and divine nature of the figure. The marble statue was donated to Pope Benedict XIV, and was placed in the Capitoline Museum in 1742. Pope Gregory XVI requested for it to be transferred to the Vatican in 1838 so it could be displayed in its new Egyptian Museum.

Paul Jasmin

Paul Jasmin, “Rodney, Edie, and Bosco, Hollywood”, 1990, Silver Gelatin Print

Born in April of 1935, Paul Jasmin was an actor, illustrator, and painter before focusing on photography. He left his hometown of Helena, Montana, in 1954 to travel in the world and pursue an acting career in New York and Los Angeles. He performed small cameo roles in the 1959 “Riot in Juvenile Prison”, “Midnight Cowboy” in 1969, and Spike Jonze’s 2002 “Adaption”. Working with actors Virginia Gregg and Jeanette Nolan, Paul Jasmin provided one of the three vocals mixed together for the voice of Norman’s mother in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.

From 1965 to 1975, Jasmin concentrated on painting and illustration. He provided illustrative work for the fashion campaigns of the luxury Valentino brand. Jasmin also illustrated the advertising poster for the 1972 American porno film “Bijou”, directed by dancer and choreographer Wakefield Poole. 

Urged by friend and photographer Bruce Weber, Paul Jasmin turned to photography, with his imagery focusing on the unknown people he discovered on his travels. He began doing work for commercial clients in the late 1970s, working for the brands SAKS, Nautica, and Mr.Porter. Jasmin’s current editorial work appears in Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, Details, V Magazine, V Man, and Vogue Hommes, among other publications,

Since 2002, Jasmin has produced a several photographic studies of life in California, including “Hollywood Cowboy”, published in 2002 by Arena Editions; the 2008 “Los Angeles”, published by Steidl: and “California Dreaming”, published by Steidl in 2011. His 2008 “Lost Angeles” series, a study of those ‘tarnished angels’ who come to Hollywood seeking their dreams, is considered one of his most prominent works. 

Paul Jasmin currently teaches photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

The Sator Square

 

Photographers Unknown, (The Sator Square; A Collection)

The Sator Square is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome in a sequence of characters that reads the same backward as forward. It is a five by five square made up of five five-letter words, consisting of twenty-five letters in total. These twenty-five letters are all derived from eight Latin letters, consisting of five consonants (STRPN) and three vowels (AEO).In particular, thr Square is a square 2D palindrome, which is when a square text admits four symmetries: identity, two diagonal reflections, and 180 degree rotation. As can be seen, the text may be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left; and it may be rotated 180 degrees and still be read in all those ways.

The Sator Square is the earliest dateable 2D palindrome. It was found in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy, at Herculaneum, a city buried in the ash from the 79 AD Mount Vesuvius eruption. It consists of the five Latin words: Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, and Rotes. Other Sator Squares have also been found in excavations under the church os Saint Marie Maggiore in Rome; at Cirencester in Cotswolds, England; at Dura-Europos in Syria; at the Valvisciolo Abbey, Latina, Italy; and as a partial inscription on a rune stone at Närke, Sweden.

“It seemed to him that the Square, itself the accidental masonry of many years, the chance agglomeration of time and of disrupted strivings, was the center of the universe. It was for him, in his soul’s picture, the earth’s pivot, the granite core of changelessness, the eternal place where all things came and passed, and yet abode forever and would never change.” 

–Thomas Wolfe, Lost Boy: A Novella

Emperor Caracalla

Bust of Emperor Caracalla

Artist Unknown, Bust of Emperor Caracalla, White Marble Head, Alabaster Torso

Formerly known as Antoninus, Caracalla was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Julia Domna and Septinius Severus. He ruled as the Roman Emperor from 198 to 217 AD, first as a co-ruler with his father Septnius from 198, then as a co-ruler with his brother Geta from 209 AD. After his father’s death in 211, Caracalla killed his brother and assumed the position of Emperor for himself.

Although Caracalla’s reign was troubled with domestic instability and invasions by the Germanic tribes, it was notable for the Antonine Constitution which granted Roman citizenship to all free men throughout the Roman Empire. Caracalla is known for the construction of the second-largest baths in Rome, the Baths of Caracalla, and for the the new Roman currency named the antoninianus.

Ancient sources portray Caracalla as a tyrant and a cruel leader, enacting massacres in his empire and against his own Roman people. He was assassinated by a disaffected soldier in 217 AD. Macrinus, a praetorian prefect of Rome and a conspirator in the assassination against Caracalla, became Emperor on April 11, 217, three days after Caracalla’s death.

Image reblogged with thanks to http://hadrian6.tumblr.com

 

The Karnak Temple

 

Photographer Unknown, (Inside the Karnak Temple in Luxor)

Consisting of more than one hundred hectares, Karnak is an ancient temple precinct in Egypt located on the east bank of the Nile River in modern-day Luxor, formerly Thebes. The largest sector is the central portion which is dedicated to Amun-Ra, considered to be the supreme creator, the god of fertility and life.

In the southern central sector is a precinct dedicated to the goddess Mut, wife of Amun-Ra, the primal mother goddess who is associated with the waters from which everything is born. She was a patron deity of Thebes along with her husband Amun-Ra and their son Khonsu, god of the moon.

North of the central area is a precinct dedicated to Montu, the falcon headed god of war and embodiment of the conquering vitality of the Pharaoh. A very ancient god, Montu was a manifestation of the scorching destructive effect of Ra, the sun, which caused him first to be considered a warrior and eventually revered as a war-god.

To the east of the central sector, there is an area, destroyed intentionally, that was dedicated to Aten, the solar disc. The deity Aten was the focus of the monotheistic religion established by Amenhotep IV to worship Aten as the creator, the giver of life, and the nurturing spirit of the world. Horemheb, the last Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, reestablished the priesthood of Amun and destroyed the temple area of Atan, the solar disc. A prolific builder, Horemheb constructed the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Pylons of the great Hypostyle Hall in the precinct of Amon-Ra at the Temple of Karnak.

The last major building program at Karnak was under the reign of Nectanebo I, a king of the Thirtieth and last Dynasty of Egypt. He built a large enclosure wall around the site along with another temple. He also started, but did not complete, a new pylon at the western entrance of Karnak. The rulers of foreign descent who took control of Egypt continued work at Karnak, creating a series of burial catacombs dedicated to Osiris, god of the underworld. When Rome seized control of Egypt, work at Karnak ceased, ending a span of two thousand years of construction.

One Thousand and One Nights

“One Thousand and One Nights” , a collection of Mid-Eastern folk tales, was compiled during the Islamic Golden Age, a period of culture, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam.This period is traditionally dated from the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid in 786 to 809 and extended, by some scholars’ estimate, as late as the end of the 15th to 16th centuries. The tales have their roots in Arabic, Persian, Indian, Greek, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature. Collected by various authors and scholars, the stories have been presented in many editions; some contained a few hundred tales and others included a thousand in poem or prose form. 

There are two main Arabic manuscript traditions of the “One Thousand and One Nights”. The Syrian tradition includes the oldest manuscripts, with shorter and fewer tales. Believed the purest expression of the style of the medieval “Arabian Nights”, it has been republished most recently in 1984 and is known as the Leiden Edition. The Egyptian tradition emerged after the Syrian tradition and contains more tales of more varied content, collected over the centuries, including up to the 19th century. This tradition includes 1001 tales and is known as the “Calcutta II” or the “Macnaghten” edition, published between 1839 to 1842. 

The first European version, translated into French by Antoine Galland from the Syrian tradition and other sources, was a twelve-volume work entitled “Les Mille et Une Nuits, Contes Arabes Traduits en Francais”. This work included stories not found in the original Arabic manuscripts but which later became traditionally associated with “Nights”, such as the well-known “Aladdin’s Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. Since this first European version published from 1704 to 1717, many other editions have appeared through the years. In 2008, a translation of the Calcutta II edition was made by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons and published in three volumes by Penguin Classics. Although not a complete translation, it contains the standard text of the “1001 Nights”, includes the Ali Baba and Aladdin tales, and all the poetry.

The genre of the “One Thousand and One Nights” tales varies widely. They include tragedies, comedies, poems, historical tales, tales of love, and tales of erotica. Mixed with real people and geographic locations are sorcerers, jinns, apes, magicians, and places of legend. Probably the best known translation to English is Sir Richard Francis Burton’s “The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night”, a ten-volume version published in 1885. Printed during the Victorian era in England, it contained all the erotic nuances of the original material, complete with sexual imagery and gay allusions added as appendices. Sir Richard Burton avoided the strict obscenity laws of the Victorian era by printing an edition for subscribers only instead of a formal publishing.

The exotic atmosphere of “One Thousand and One Nights” lent itself easily to film, influencing Fritz Lang’s “Der müde Tod”, a parable fantasy of love and death with the figure of Death transporting the heroine to Persia, Venice of the 15th century, and China. In 1924, Raoul Walsh’s “The Thief of Bagdad” starred Douglas Fairbanks on a magical journey to win the hand of the Caliph of Bagdad’s daughter. The collection of tales also influenced the 1926 feature-length animated film “The Adventures fo Prince Achmed” by Lotte Reiniger The oldest surviving animation feature film, it contained exotic lands, magical adventures, flying horses, and a handsome prince meeting Aladdin. 

The gif images of Nyle DiMarco are from Ariana Grand’s “7 Rings”, the ASL Version, located at this site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTkIsqdBCtk. This production was directed by Jake Wilson with cinematography by Matthew Tompkins. The ASL Version’s translation is by Nyle DiMarco, co-produced by Nyle DiMarco and Sami Housman.

Wat Samphran

Wat Samphran, a Buddhist temple in Amphoe Sam Phran, is located about forty kilometers west of Bangkok in Thailand. The seventeen story temple is known for its gigantic dragon which curls around the entire height of the building. The dragon contains a staircase, which, due to its poor condition, is no longer in use.

The founder of the temple, after a seven-day fasting meditation, realized the design of the structure. The 80 meters tall building honors the number of years that the Buddha manifested on the earth. A large figure of the Buddha resides on the third floor and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy is located on the grounds of the temple.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Lure of a Blue Room

November 27, 1920 marks the release of Douglas Fairbanks’s “The Mark of Zorro”.

“The Mark of Zorro” was a 1920 silent adventure romance film, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery Senior’, based on Johnston McCulley’s 1919 “The Curse of Capistrano” which introduced the character of Zorro. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Fairbanks, under the name of Elton Thomas, and Eugene Miller.  “The Mark of Zorro” was the first film released through United Artists, formed by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks played Don Diego Vega, the effete son of a wealthy ranch owner, who has the secret identity of a masked Robin Hood- like rogue, known as Zorro, or The Fox. He is the champion of the people who appears out of nowhere to protect and right wrongs. He has a love interest, Lolita played by Marguerite De La Motte, and is pursued by the authorities, including Sergeant Pedro Gonzales played by Noah Beery Senior.

“The Mark of Zorro” is a landmark in the career of Douglas Fairbanks and in the development of the action adventure film. This was Fairbanks’s thirtieth motion picture; and he used it to transition from comedies to costume adventure films, which is how most people remember him. The audiences responded with enthusiasm to Fairbanks’s  new persona, which allowed him to flaunt his considerable athleticism to its fullest advantage. Fairbanks’s stunts have lost none of their impact; no later cinematic superhero has ever been half so convincing as his Zorro leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and over the heads of his enemies.

This film helped popularize one of Americas’s most prominent creations of fiction; the enduring character of the superhero. It established the pattern for future caped crusaders with dual identities. “The Mark of Zorro” was remade twice: in 1940 starring Tyrone Power and in 1974 starring Frank Langella. The United States Library of Congress selected it in 2015 for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In DC Comics, it is established that “The Mark of Zorro” was the film that young Bruce Wayne saw just before the death of his parents outside the movie theater. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce Wayne’s childhood hero and an influence upon his Batman persona. Bill Finger, co-creator with Bob Kane of the character Batman, was inspired by the Zorro played by Fairbanks, leading to similarities in costumes, the secret caves, and the unexpected secret identities.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 24th of November,  Solar Year 2018

One Facet of Life

November 24, 1639 marks the first known observation and recording of a transit of Venus.

By the 17th century, two developments allowed for the transits of planets across the face of the sun to be predicted and observed. One was the telescope of which the actual inventor is unknown; a patent for a refracting telescope was submitted in 1608 in the Netherlands by spectacle maker Hans Lippershey. Galileo heard about it, and in 1609 built his own version, making observations of celestial objects.

The second development was the new astronomy of Johannes Kepler, which assumed elliptical rather than circular orbits fro the planets. In 1627, Kepler published his “ Rudolphine Tables”, a star catalogue and planetary tables using some observational data collected by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Two years later, Kepler published extracts from his tables concerning the transit of Mercury and of Venus for the year 1631. These occurred as predicted and were observed by several astronomers, vindicating Kepler’s approach to astronomical theory.

The first known observations and recording of the transit of Venus across the sun were made in 1639 by the English astronomers Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend and correspondent William Crabtree. These observations were made on November 24, under the Julian calendar then in use in England. This calendar was refined and gradually replaced by our Gregorian calendar initiated by Pope Gregory XIII, changing the observation date to December 4th of that year. Horrocks observed the event from the village of Much Hoole, Lancashire, and Crabtree, independently, observed the event from his home in Broughton, near Manchester.

Both men, followers of Kepler’s astronomy, were self-taught mathematical astronomers who methodically worked to correct and improve Kepler’s Tables by observation and measurement. In 1639, Horrocks was the only astronomer who realized that the transit of Venus was imminent; others became aware only upon receiving Horrocks’s report. The two men’s observations and later mathematical work were influential in establishing the size of the solar system. For their achievements, they are considered the founders fo British research astronomy.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 16th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Yellow Skyscrapers

On November 16, 1581, Ivan the Terrible attacks his son and heir, Ivan Ivanovich.

Ivan Ivanovich was a Tsarevich, a heir apparent of Russia, and the second son of Ivan IV Vasilyevich, known as Ivan the Terrible. Young Ivan at the age of fifteen accompanied his father, who was seeking control of the city of Novgordo, during what became known as the Massacre of Novgordo. For a period of five weeks, Ivan and his father watched the army attack the city and slaughter all its noblemen.

Ivan Ivanovich’s relationship with his father began to deteriorate during the later stages of the Livonian War, where Russia faced a coalition of armed forces from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Union consisting of Lithuania and Poland. Angry with his father for his military failures, Ivan demanded to be given command of some of the troops to liberate the besieged city of Pskov, a Russian-held city under attack.

The relationship between father and son deteriorated further in November of 1581 when the Tsar physically assaulted Ivan’s pregnant wife. As a consequence, Ivan the younger’s wife, Yelena, suffered a miscarriage. Confronted about this, the Tsar changed the subject, accusing the younger Ivan of inciting rebellion and insubordination regarding Ivan’s recent actions of liberating the city of Pskov from the siege.

Angered, the Tsar Ivan struck his son, the younger Ivan, on the head with his scepter. Boris Godunov, minister to the court, tried to intervene but only received blows from the scepter himself. The younger Ivan fell, barely conscious with a bleeding wound on his temple. The younger Ivan only briefly regained consciousness before being transported to his chamber. For the next few days, Ivan the Terrible prayed for a miracle to save his son, but to no avail, Ivan Ivanovich, the Tsaravich, died on three days later on November 19, 1581.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 7th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Fervor Doubled

On November 7, 1492, the Ensisheim Meteorite strikes a wheat field in Alsace, France.

Shortly before noon on November 7, 1492, a meteorite fell in a field just outside the walled city of Ensisheim in Alsace, France. The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball at a distance of up to 150 kilometres from where it eventually landed. The only witness was a young boy who saw the single stone punch itself a meter deep into what is now the rich soil of the eastern French countryside. It is the oldest meteorite impact with a confirmed date on record, and has become famous for its dramatic fall from the heavens, recorded for posterity by the Italian priest Sigismondo Tizio.

In an age when comets, shooting stars, and other celestial phenomenon remained unexplained, the appearance of the meteorite was quickly attributed to divine intervention. When the citizens of Ensisheim learned of the fall, many people wanted their own souvenir of the event in the form a fragment chipped from the main mass. As the crowds descended on the stone, the Chief Magistrate took charge and stopped further destruction. The stone was set at the door of the Ensisheim church where its fame was soon magnified.

On November 26th, the “King of the Romans” King Maximilian arrived in Ensisheim to consult privately with the stone. Several days later, Maximilian declared the meteorite to be a wonder of God, and then chipped off two small pieces of the stone, one for himself and one for his friend Archduke Sigismund of Austria. King Maximilian gave the stone back to the citizens of Ensisheim stating that it should be preserved in the parish church as evidence of God’s miracles. The meteorite was fixed to the church wall with iron crampons “to prevent it from wandering at night or departing in the same violent manner it had arrived” .

Today, the Ensisheim meteorite resides on display at the sixteenth-century Musée de la Régence in Ensisheim. It is now protected in the town; but over centuries,  visitors managed to chip off about 56 kg (123 pounds) of its original 127-kg mass. The Ensisheim meteorite is classified as an ordinary chondrite, the most abundant meteorite class, constituting more than 85 percent of meteorite falls.

Sebastian Brant, satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff”, described the meteorite and its fall in the poem “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite”. Brant created broadsheets in Latin and German with a poem about the meteorite describing it as an omen. On the reverse side of Albrecht Dürer’s 1495 painting “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness” is an image of what appears to be a meteor/meteorite. It has been suggested that this might be the Ensisheim Meteorite.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of November,  Solar Year 2018

He Says “Woof”

November 2, 1947 marks the first and only flight of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose.

In 1942, the U.S. War Department needed to transport war material and personnel to Britain. A requirement was issued for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic with a large payload; however, because of wartime priorities, the aircraft could not be made from strategic materials such as aluminum. Henry J. Kaiser, a leading ship builder, teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create the largest aircraft ever built at that time.

The aircraft was designed to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 fully equipped troops, or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks. The final design was to be built mostly of wood to conserve metal, with its elevators and rudder covered with fabric. The construction of the first prototyple, the HK-1, took sixteen months. Henry Kaiser, frustrated by the long delays and the restrictions on materials, decided to withdraw from the project.

Howard Hughes continued the program on his own, under a new contract limiting the production to one plane, now the H-4 Hercules. Work proceeded slowly and the H-4 was not completed until the war was over. The plane was built by the Hughes Aircraft Company using composite technology for the laminated wood construction. The finished plane was moved in three sections to Pier E in Long Beach, California, where a hanger was erected around it with a ramp to launch the H-4 into the harbor. In all, development cost for the plane was twenty-three million dollars, or more than ten times that in today dollars.

On November 2, 1947, with Howard Hughes at the controls, and a crew of seven, and fourteen invited guests, the Hercules picked up speed and lifted off. The Hercules remained airborne for 26 seconds at a height of seventy feet above the water and a speed of 135 miles per hour. At this altitude the aircraft still experienced ground effect. This brief flight proved that the now uneeded aircraft was flight worthy. The Hercules H-4 never flew again; its lifting capacity and ceiling height were never tested.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has the Hughes H-1 Racer and a section of theH-4’s wing. The Aero Club of Southern California acquired the Hercules H-4 aircraft in 1980, displaying it in a very large geodesic dome in Long Beach, California. The club later arranged for the aircraft to be given to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon where it is currently on display. The 315,000 square foot aircraft hanger where the Hercules H-4 was built, located in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles,  is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of October, Solar Year 2018

Slow Moving Water

October 26, 1825 marks the opening of the Erie Canal.

From the days of the birchbark canoe, the early trade routes of the Northeast utilized New York’s waterways. The Lake Champlain-Hudson River Route and the Lake Ontario-Oswego River-Mohawk River Route were utilized by native Americans, fur traders, missionaries and colonizers. The birchbark canoes used earlier were supplemented by longer heavier boats rowed or pulled by several men, which by 1791 was able to haul a two ton load.

In March of 1792, the Western Inland Lock and Navigation Company came into being and improved navigation on the Mohawk River. Also in that year, this company built small canals 3 feet deep with locks of 12 feet by 74 feet around the falls and rapids of the river. By 1796, Durham boats with capacities of 15-20 tons were able to navigate the route. Although business was brisk, maintenance on the wooden locks and channels depleted revenue and the operation folded a few years later.

In 1817 the Erie Canal was established under the management of a New York State Commission. Federal funds were not legislated; so this canal and all subsequent canals in New York State were built and maintained exclusively with state funds. The canal was dug from Albany to Buffalo, 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, with stone locks 15 feet by 90 feet. The locks were the limiting factor on boat size and their efficiency of operation dictated the allowable traffic flow.

Additional canals were dug from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, from Montezuma to Cayuga and Seneca Lakes and from Syracuse to Oswego. This canal system proved to be so successful that almost every community in the state lobbied for a link to the system, resulting in a network of canals. These lateral canals proved to be of marginal value at best:

In 1836, an enlargement program commenced on the main Erie Canal system. The canal was straightened a bit, the channel was increased in size to 7 feet by 70 feet, and the locks were enlarged to 18 feet by 110 feet. This permitted boats of much greater size on the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego canals, and further diminished the importance of the smaller lateral canals. Most of the lateral canals were closed by 1878 with only the Black River Canal lasting until the eventual close of the entire system in 1917.

The growth of steam power on the canal and steel boat construction eliminated the need for a waterway as protected as the old Erie Canal. A twentieth century canal of grand dimension with cast concrete structures and electronic controls was begun. This Barge Canal system, utilizing canalized rivers and lakes and enlarged sections of the original Erie Canal, opened in 1918. Several of the old routes are still utilized today.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 22nd of October, Solar Year 2018

The Bibliophile

October 22, 1797 marks the first parachute descent from a balloon in Paris.

Early inventors have been designing and testing parachutes since the seventeenth century. Croatian bridge designer Faust Vrancic constructed a device based on Da Vinci’s drawings. To demonstrate it, he jumped rom a Venice tower in 1617 wearing the rigid-framed parachute. He called it the Homo Volans, describing it in his published technical book “Machinae Novae”.

The French inventor Jean Pierre Blanchard was probably the first person to use a  parachute for an emergency. Blanchard claimed in 1793 to have escaped from an exploding hot air balloon by parachute. There were no eye witnesses to the event unfortunately. He did, however, develop the first foldable parachute made from silk.

Andre-Jacques Garnerin was a student of the ballooning pioneer professor Jacques Charles, a French scientist and mathematician. Garnerin was involved with the flight of hot air balloons, working with his older brother in most of his ballooning activities. He began to experiment with early parachutes based on umbrella-shaped devices.

Garnerin became the first person recorded to jump with a parachute without a rigid frame. His frameless parachute descent occurred on October 22 in 1797 at Parc Monceau, a public park in Paris. His parachute was made of silk in an umbrella-shape with a diameter of about ten meters. The umbrella was closed before he ascended, with a pole running down its center and a rope running through a tube in the pole, which was connected to the balloon.

Garnerin rode in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute to a height of about 1000 meters. At this height, he severed the rope to the balloon. The balloon continued upwards, while Garnerin, in his basket with parachute, fell. The basket swayed violently on its descent, and landed roughly; but Garnerin emerged uninjured. Garnerin made multiple ascents and tests with his parachute at the Parc Monceau.

Andre-Jacques Garnerin was an avid balloonist, making many ascents in a balloon before large numbers of spectators. In 1798 he was the first to ascend with a woman as a passenger. There was much concern from officials regarding the possible ill effects of ascent on a woman and the moral implications of the such close proximity of the sexes. Nevertheless, the balloon trip was successful; and both Garnerin and passenger Citoyenne Henri arrived safely at their destination in Goussaninville about thirty miles north of Paris.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of October, Solar Year 2018

Lost in Thought

October 15, 1674 was the opening day of the witch trials held in Torsåker, a parish in Sweden.

The great wave of witch hysteria reached the parish of Torsåker, after the sensational trial of the alleged witch Märet Jonsdotter in central Sweden in 1668. Sweden’s Lutheran priests, at this time, were state-employed, causing them to follow the government’s instructions. These priests were ordered to use their sermons to inform their congregations of alleged crimes committed; rumors of witchcraft spread over the country. The priest of Torsåker parish, Laurnetius Christophori Hornæus, who was a man with a terrifying reputation, was ordered by a special commission of the government to perform an investigation.

The witnesses at the trial were mostly children, as the main accusations against the alleged witches was that they had abducted children on the sabbath of Satan. Hornæus had several methods to get the right testimonies from the children. He whipped them, bathed them in the ice cold water of hole in the lake’s winter ice, and put them in an oven, threatening to light the fire below and burn them. These acts were confirmed later in 1735 by Hornæus’ own wife, whose grandson added that these children, sixty years later, were still fearful of the priest, his grandfather.

On October 15, 1674, the witch trial of Torsåker began. About one hundred people of both sexes were accused by the children, making it the biggest witch trial in the country. The prisoners were kept in several different locations in the village, were given almost no food, but were allowed to receive food from their relatives. There is little existing records of the actual trial itself; however, it is known that seventy-one people were found guilty of witchcraft, sixty-five women and six men.

After the last sermon in the church of Torsåker, those found guilty were led to the place of execution, crying and protesting their innocence. Many fainted out of weakness and had to be carried to the middle of the parish, about half a mile from the parish churches, to a mountain area. There the prisoners were decapitated, shed of their clothes, and their bodies lifted on stakes. The stakes and additional wood were set on fire and the bodies burned.

Neither the commission or any local courts had the rights to conduct any execution. They were expected to report their sentences in any case to a higher court for confirmation before sentences could be carried out; the high court normally would confirm only a minority of the death sentences. In this case at Torsåker, no reporting was done and the prisoners were executed without any confirmation. No actions were taken against the commission which was defended by the town’s authorities.  In 1677, all the priests were ordered to tell their congregations that all witches had been expelled from the country forever in order to avoid further witch trials.