Archive for November, 2014

The bearded lady: The most famous human curiosity of the 19th century.

How we treat our fellow humans reveals much about our own humanity…


Julia Pastrana: A “Monster to the Whole World”

(The Public Domain Review)




“Julia Pastrana, a woman from Mexico born with hypertrichosis, became one of the most famous human curiosities of the 19th century, exhibited the world over as a “bearded lady” while both alive and dead. Bess Lovejoy explores her story and how it was only in 2013, 153 years after her passing, that she was finally laid to rest.


When Julia Pastrana was born, in the mountains of Western Mexico in 1834, her mother worried that her looks were the result of supernatural interference. The local native tribes often blamed the naualli, a breed of shape-shifting werewolves, for stillbirths and deformities, and after seeing her daughter for the first time, Julia’s mother is said to have whispered their name. She fled her tribe — or was cast out — not long after.


Two years later, Mexican herders searching for a missing cow found Julia and her mother hiding in a mountain cave. They took them to the nearest city, where Julia was placed in an orphanage. Sweet, intelligent, and almost totally covered in black hair, she became a local celebrity. After hearing of her unusual looks and charming disposition, the state governor adopted Julia to serve as a live-in amusement and maid. She stayed with the governor until she was twenty, when she decided to return to her own tribe. But she never completed the trip home: an American showman known as M. Rates met her somewhere on her journey back to the mountains, and persuaded her to take up a life onstage.


Julia would go on to become one of the most famous human curiosities of the nineteenth century, variously known as “the Ape Woman,” “the Bear Woman,” or “the Baboon Lady.” She made her debut in December 1854, at the Gothic Hall on Broadway in New York City. She wore a red dress, sang Spanish folk tunes, and danced the Highland Fling. Huge, appreciative crowds flocked to see her, although it wasn’t really the singing and dancing they were after…”


See the rest here.



Whimsy or Deadly? The Mystery of the 16th Century Rocket Cats

The explanation is more ominous than you might think…



via Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 128, f.74r


Objects of Intrigue: 16th Century Rocket Cats

by Allison Meier

(From Atlas Obscura)


“Why are these animals in a 16th century manuscript wearing jet packs? That’s the mystery Mitch Fraas, Scholar in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, set out to decipher. It turns out the truth is a bit macabre, but the illustrators obviously took some whimsical joy in depicting these rocket cats and birds. Fraas told Atlas Obscura more about these fire-fueled cats:

Just about a year ago, a friend sent me a link with a picture from one of our manuscripts here at Penn. I gaped… was that really a picture of a cat and a bird propelled by rocket packs!? This seemed pretty unlikely for a 16th century manuscript, but within a week I had turned up another half dozen examples of similar illustrations. So, what’s the deal with these rocket creatures?…


For the complete piece click here to go to Atlas Obscura.




The beauty of the heroes’ faces…

These gorgeous mosaics from the Ancient Greek city of Zeugma, are seeing the light for the first time in eons….




Mosaics Revealed at Ancient Greek City of Zeugma in Turkey –


Archaeologists discovered three unique mosaics at the Ancient Greek city of Zeugma, in south Turkey, near the borders of Syria.


The ancient city of Zeugma was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC. The population of the city at its peak was approximately 80,000 inhabitants.


Zeugma is 80 percent underwater, after it was flooded with the waters of a nearby artificial lake. The mosaics, which were recovered in excellent condition, belong to the 2nd century B.C….”


See more here. (Incredible high resolution photographs…)




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