Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arabian horse on 1968 Soviet Union postage stamp

PD Image: Arabian horse on postage stamp of value 6 Kopecks issued by the postal department of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1968

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two Devadasis from Chennai in India, 1920s

PD Photo: photograph of two Devadasis from Chennai in India, taken in 1920s

Devadasi, a word in many Indian languages, means ‘a woman who serves god’, and is a practitioner or follower of the Devadasi tradition, a Hindu religious tradition in which girls are married of to and dedicated to a deity - Deva (god) or Devi (goddess), or they are simply married of to a temple. These women learned and practiced Bharatanatyam, Odissi and other forms of classical Indian dances, and they enjoyed high social status. However, the Devadasi Tradition and practices were made illegal in all states/ regions of India in 1988.

However, Devadasis still exist in India, as shown in a 2004 report by the National Human Rights Commission of the Government of India that read, "After initiation as Devadasis, women migrate either to nearby towns or other far-off cities to practice prostitution". A study from 1990 recorded that 45.9% of Devadasis in a particular district were prostitutes, while most of the others relied on manual labour and agriculture for their income. The practice of dedicating Devadasis was declared illegal by the Government Karnataka in 1982 and by the Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1988. However, as of 2006 the practice was found to be still prevalent in at least 10 districts of northern Karnataka and 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh.

Devadasis are known by various other names, such as Jogini, and the Devadasi practice of religious prostitution is known as Basivi in Karnataka and Mathangi in Maharashtra. The tradition is also known as Venkatasani, Nailis, Muralis and Theradiyan.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Elvis Presley on German postage stamp

PD Image: Scan of a postage stamp issued by the German postal department, ‘Deutschen Bundespost’ in 1988

Early 20th Century Halloween Greeting Card

PD Image: An early 20th century Halloween greeting card reproduced in Bill Ellis, Lucifer Ascending: The Occult in Folklore and Popular Culture (University of Kentucky, 2004).

The greeting card (1904) depicts a ritual of divination found in folklore from the United States of America and the British Isles. The young girl in the card hopes to catch a glimpse of her future husband by looking into a mirror on a darkened room at Halloween. The legend on the card reads:
On Hallowee'n look in the glass,
Your future husband's face will pass.