Archive for the 'Ancient Wonders' Category

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things — and Happy Halloween!

These stranger things will get you into the Halloween spirit:

 

 

From The Public Domain Review,

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904)

 

Kwaidan: stories and studies of strange things, by Lafcadio Hearn; 1904; Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.

 

“Deriving its title from the word for “ghost story” in Japanese Kwaidan is a book by scholar and translator Lafcadio Hearn in which are compiled an array of ghost stories hailing from Japan. Hearn writes in his introduction, written only months before his death, that the majority of the stories were translated from old Japanese texts (some of which themselves were based on earlier Chinese tales), although one of the stories, “Riki-Baka”, he declares to be of his own making, based on a personal experience. Unmentioned in the introduction, another of the stories — “Hi-Mawari”, written in the first person — appears almost certainly to be born from his own experience also, a recollection of a childhood experience in Wales (he’d spent time near Bangor when a child living with his Aunt). Among the many curious and spooky happenings related in the other stories, we hear of a musician called upon to perform for the dead, man-eating goblins, a mysterious face appearing in a cup of tea, and, rather terrifyingly, a featureless girl with a face as smooth as an egg. The final section of the book, titled “Insect-Studies”, is a presentation of Chinese and Japanese superstitions relating to the insect world, specifically butterflies (personifications of the human soul), mosquitoes (Karmic reincarnation of jealous or greedy people) and ants (mankind’s superior in terms of chastity, ethics, social structure, longevity and evolution).

 

For the rest, click here, also below:

 

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: California Digital Library

Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights

Download: PDF | Text and eBook option at Project Gutenberg

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Fertility Magic: The Science of Ancient Egyptian Childbearing

We love our ancient Egyptians here at the Museum of Mysteries. Enjoy this!

 

 

From Tour Egypt,

 

Childbirth and Children in Ancient Egypt
By Marie Parsons

 

“Children were considered a blessing in ancient Egypt. Sons and daughters took care of their parents in their old age. They were often called “the staff of old age,” that is, one upon whom the elderly parents could depend upon for support and care. The scribe Ani instructed that children repay the devotion of Egyptian mothers:

 

“Repay your mother for all her care. Give her as much bread as she needs, and carry her as she carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her. When you were finally born, she still carried you on her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean.”

 

It was also expected that the older son or child carry on the funerary provisioning of the parents after their death. Children had value in ancient Egypt. The Greeks, who were accustomed to leaving infants exposed to the elements, were stunned to observe that every baby born to Egyptian families were cared for and raised. This care was not easy. Many children died to infection and disease. There was a high rate of infant mortality, one death out of two or three births, but the number of children born to a family on average were four to six, some even having ten to fifteen.

 

The Kahun, Berlin and Carlsberg papyri contain an extraordinary series of tests for fertility, pregnancy and to determine the sex of the unborn child. These tests cover a wide range of procedures, including the induction of vomiting and examination of the eyes. Perhaps the most famous test says: to see if a woman will or will not bear a child. Emmer and barley, the lady should moisten with her urine every day, like dates and like sand in two bags. If they all grow, she will bear a child. If the barley grows it will be a male, if the emmer grows it will be a female, if neither grow she will not bear a child.

 

This technique was tested in the late 20th century, and it showed no growth of either seed when watered with male or non-pregnant female urine. With forty specimens from pregnant women, there was growth of one or both species in more than 50% of the cases. While this seemed a good indicator of pregnancy, no growth failed to exclude pregnancy in 30% of the cases. When only one species germinated, the prediction of gender was correct in seven cases, and incorrect in sixteen cases…”

 

For the rest, click here.

 

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1940s Crime Dioramas. You Know You Love These.

All Hallow’s Eve is nearly upon us.

 

Frances Glessner Lee, “Burned Cabin” (detail) (1944-48) (Collection of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, courtesy Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore)

 

Frances Glessner Lee, “Dark Bathroom” (detail) (1944-48) (Collection of the Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, courtesy Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore)

 

From Hyperallergic,

 

The Smithsonian Conserves Blood Pools and Charred Skeletons from 1940s Crime Dioramas

by Allison Meier

 

For the first time all 19 surviving Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are going on public view, with an exhibition opening in October at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.

 

When reached by phone, Ariel O’Connor, objects conservator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, was in Baltimore’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner studying 18 intricate crime scenes. Each was made in the 1940s and ’50s by Frances Glessner Lee for Harvard’s Department of Legal Medicine to show a death in miniature, with details carefully crafted down to the working door locks and painted blood spatters. One has a body sprawled on the street outside an illuminated storefront stocked with magazines, comic books, wrapped lollipops, potato chips, bottles, and other wares, all handmade to scale. “I’m looking at the sidewalk and there are tiny cigarettes, three millimeters long, that she rolled by hand,” O’Connor told Hyperallergic. “Her level of detail just astounds me daily.”

 

or the first time, all 19 of Lee’s surviving dioramas will be on public view in Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. The 18 Nutshell Studies still in use for criminologist training at Baltimore’s Medical Examiner’s Office are joined by a 19th “lost” study found in the attic of her New Hampshire estate in the 1990s. O’Connor is working on stabilizing, cleaning, and conserving the delicate models before the exhibition, organized by curator Nora Atkinson, opens on October 20 at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

 

Lee was not allowed by her wealthy Chicago family to go to university, and it was only later in life that she was free to pursue her interest in forensics. Now recognized as the “mother of forensic science,” Lee used her inheritance to endow the first program for studying forensics at Harvard University, and in 1943, she was named State Police Captain of New Hampshire for her service. A rare woman in a male-dominated field, she also used what were perceived as traditionally feminine crafts — stitching, knitting, and doll houses — to improve the field of homicide investigation…”

 

For the rest (more pictures!!!!), click here.

 

 

 

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