Saturday, October 30, 2010

World War I American Navy propaganda poster

PD Image: World War I U.S. Navy propaganda poster (1917 or 1918) by American artist and illustrator James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). The message on the U.S. Navy Recruiting Station poster is "The Navy Needs You! Don't READ American History, MAKE IT!" The poster features a US Navy sailor who addresses a civilian reading about the war in a newspaper, in the sky above them Columbia holds a sword and flag, and a battle ship is far beyond, in the distance.

Columbia, Napoleon Bonaparte and John Bull

PD Image: ‘Columbia teaching John Bull his new lesson’ (Philadelphia, 1813) cartoon by artists Samuel Kennedy and William Charles, print on wove paper: etching with watercolor, published in American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly, Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1813-3, Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

The caricature ‘Columbia Teaching John Bull his New Lesson’ (1813) on the American view of the War of 1812 depicts Columbia (the personification of the United States, holding a pole with a liberty cap on it, and with a Stars-and-Stripes shield behind her), Napoleon and John Bull (personification of Britain), and the words spoken by them are as follows:

Columbia (on the left): "I tell you Johnny, you must learn to read Respect -- Free Trade -- Seaman's Rights &c. -- As for you, Mounseer Beau Napperty, when John gets his lesson by heart, I'll teach you Respect, Retribution, &c &c."

Napoleon Bonaparte (in the middle): "Ha Ha -- Begar, me be glad to see Madam Columbia angry with dat dere John Bull -- But me no learn respect -- me no learn retribution -- Me be de grand Emperor."

John Bull (on the right, a national personification of Great Britain in general and England in particular, holding a book with the words "Power Constitutes Right"): "I don't like that lesson, I'll read this pretty lesson".

William Charles: Bruin becomes mediator or negotiation for peace

PD Image: Bruin becomes mediator or negotiation for peace (1813), cartoon by William Charles (1776–1820) depicting John Bull, the Russian Bear and Columbia (the female personification of America before Uncle Sam became popular as the personification of America). The cartoon refers to the War of 1812 between America and Great Britain and the Russian efforts to mediate between them.

West Indian Carnival in Leeds

PD Photo: Participants in carnival costumes in the West Indian Carnival in Leeds

The Leeds West Indian Carnival (or Chapeltown Carnival), the longest running West Indian carnival in Europe since 1967, is annually held in the Chapeltown and Harehills areas Leeds every August in the bank holiday weekend. The three-day event, culminating in a grand carnival procession, starts and finishes in Potternewton Park in Chapeltown. A wide range of stages and shopping stalls provide entertainment events, refreshments and novelties for the carnival-goers. About 150,000 people were estimated to have attended the 2009 Chapeltown Carnival.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vintage Halloween collectors’ items

PD Photos: 1 - Vintage papier-mâché Halloween candy container of circa 1920-1950. 2 - A vintage Halloween greeting card that depicts a witch riding a broom flying through the night sky with the moon and stars, and the message on the card is ‘A Happy Halloween’.

Deepavali at Little India, Singapore

PD Photos: Deepavali at Little India, Singapore, photos taken in Oct 2006 by Sengkang.

Generally, one month before Deepavali (or Diwali), The Festival of Lights, the Little India Heritage District are decorated and illuminated with lights, colorfully and creatively, as you see in the sample photos above. Streets are festooned with ornamental lights, often depicting Indian motifs, such as elephants, peacocks and oil lamps.

Deepavali Bazaars are held in different parts of the district, mainly at Little India Arcade, and opposite the Mustafa Centre. These busy markets have stalls selling Deepavali Greeting Cards, traditional foods and drinks, India-themed decoration items for homes, traditional Indian costumes and modern clothing, Indian music and video discs, sparklers and toys, oil lamps, incense, idols of Hindu deities, etc. Both Hindus and non-Hindus residents and tourists visit the area for shopping and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Little India neighborhood in Singapore is well-known for its Tamil cultural elements. Little India is located to east of the Singapore River - across from Chinatown, located west of the river - and north of Kampong Glam.

Little India has several Hindu temples, the Central Sikh Gurdwara, Mosques, the Buddhist Sakyamuni Buddha Gaya Temple, Foochow Methodist Church, Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Angullia Mosque, Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple, Jalan Mosque, and the Leong San See Temple dedicated to Guanyin, the Chinese Boddhisattva of Mercy.

Some of the major Hindu festivals celebrated every year in Little India include Deepavali, Thaipusam, Pongal/ Tamil New Year, the Fire Walking festival, Holi and various Hindu Chariot processions.

Pattaya Floating Market, Thailand

Pattaya Floating Market located to the south of Pattaya, Thailand

Thailand’s Pattaya Floating Market, located to the south of Pattaya on Sukhumvit Road, developed on the site of the Lake View Restaurant, is claimed to be the largest floating market in the Eastern Region. Covering an area of over 100,000 squire meters, the constructions are made of fine teak wood.

In fact, the name 'Floating Market' is a misnomer, because most of the shopping malls are found on platforms constructed on stilts over the lake, though there are floating boats selling delicacies. Still, a visit to the floating market is worth your time and money, if you are visiting Pattaya, and if you miss it, you may regret it when you hear about the market later from others.

The Floating Market aims at capturing the old ways of authentic Thai life. All Thai food delicacies and other Thai art and craft items from all regions of Thailand are sold in the market. Its area is divided into four sections representing the four regions of Thailand: North, Central, North Eastern and Southern.

Apart from shopping for rare Thai souvenirs and relishing authentic Thai food to your hearts content, there are other entertaining activities, such as boating, dance shows and other interesting aspects of Thailand’s culture.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bikini girls of Ancient Rome

PD Photo: Uncropped picture of all of the figures in the famous "bikini girls" mosaic found by archeological excavation of the ancient Roman villa del Casale near Piazza Armerina in Sicily. This shows women exercising, running, or receiving the palm of victory and wreath for winning an athletic competition.

The mosaic also shows (at the lower left) a non-bikini figure, perhaps a games official, rushing in with a wreath and palm-leaf to crown the winner. Also note that these bikinis are not swimwear or swimsuits, but sportswear. But, the styling and fashion are also remarkably similar to some of the modern day swimwear and bikinis.

Byam Shaw: The Garden of Kama

PD Images above: Indian-born British painter, illustrator, designer and teacher Byam Shaw’s illustrations for The Garden of Kama, collection of poems by Adela Florence Nicolson (Laurence Hope).

John Shaw (1872-1919) is famous for his juicy illustrations for ‘The Garden of Kama’ by Adela Florence Nicolson, who used to write under a pseudonym, Laurence Hope. The book, published in 1914 by William Heinemann, London, is a collection of love poems which were not translated from Indian literature as commonly thought, but they were originals written by Nicolson in times when it was difficult for a female writer to publish such texts, hence her pseudonym.

The themes were inspired by The Kama Sutra (or Kamasutram or Kamasutra), an ancient Indian Hindu text written by written by Mallanaga Vatsyayana in the second century CE, widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior. Traditionally, the first transmission of Kama Shastra (science of sex) or ‘Discipline of Kama’ (Kama means sensual or sexual pleasure) is attributed to the sacred bull Nandi, Lord Shiva's doorkeeper, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god and his wife Parvati and later recorded for the benefit of mankind.

George W Bush with a Halloween King

PD Photo: Former US President George W. Bush shares a moment with a ‘Halloween King’ during a Halloween night stop on Tuesday, October 31, 2006, at a housing development on base at Robins Air Force Base, Ga - White House photo by Paul Morse.

The Gutenberg Bible

PD Photo: Binding of the copy of the Gutenberg Bible located at the University of Texas at Austin

PD Photo: First page of the first volume of the Gutenberg Bible: The Epistle of St. Jerome from the University of Texas, Austin. The page has 40 lines.

PD Photo: Another Gutenberg Bible with open pages

PD Photo: Another page of the Gutenberg Bible, showing page decoration/ illustration

The Gutenberg Bible, also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42, was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press. It is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, in 1455. Gutenberg invented the printing press and he was the first European to print with the movable type.

Unlike many people believe, the Bible was not Gutenberg's first printing work, as his printing press was in operation by 1450, and a German poem had been printed, possibly the first item to be printed, followed by other texts. For the Bible project, Gutenberg borrowed 800 guilders from a moneylender, and work for printing the Bible commenced in 1452. In 1455 Gutenberg published 180 copies of the 42-line Bible, 135 on paper and 45 on vellum. Only 47 or 48 copies of the 42-line Bibles are known to exist now, and of these only 21 are complete.

Many Gutenberg Bibles have been rebound over the years, and now only 9 copies retain the fifteenth-century bindings. A complete copy of the Gutenberg Bible has 1,272 pages, with a folio size of 307 mm x 445 mm. The handmade paper used by Gutenberg was of fine quality and was imported from Italy.

Gutenberg had to develop a new oil-based ink so that it would stick better to the metal types. His ink was based on carbon with high metallic contents, including copper, lead and titanium.

The Gutenberg Bible seems to have been sold out immediately on printing, to buyers as far as England. It is assumed that most Gutenberg Bibles were sold to monasteries, universities and wealthy individuals, as people of ordinary incomes were unable to afford them, though Gutenberg Bibles were significantly cheaper than manuscript Bibles.

The institutions which display Gutenberg Bibles to the public include the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, the British Library and the Library of Congress, USA. Only a few copies are owned by religious institutions, with most copies owned by universities and other scholarly institutions. The first Gutenberg Bible reached North America in 1847, and it is now in the New York Public Library.

In the 1920s a New York book dealer, Gabriel Wells, bought a damaged copy of the Gutenberg Bible, dismantled it and sold sections and leaves to collectors and libraries. These leaves, according to reports, now sell for $20,000 to $100,000, depending upon their condition.

The only copy held in a non-western country is the first volume of a Gutenberg Bible (Hubay 45) at Keio University, located in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The copy was originally purchased on 22 October 1987 by Eiichi Kobayashi, a director at the Maruzen Company, for $5.4 million. Currently, the price of a complete copy of the Gutenberg Bible is estimated at $25-35 million.

Printing of the Gutenberg Bible played an important role in the development of the Renaissance and Reformation movements and the Scientific Revolution and laid the foundation for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the common masses.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Handwritten Latin Bible displayed in Malmesbury Abbey

PD Photo: a handwritten Latin Bible on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England

The Latin handwritten Bible (seen above) was transcribed in Belgium in 1407 for reading aloud in a monastery. The original texts of the Tanakh were mostly in Hebrew and some portions were in Aramaic. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex.

The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint (LXX), and subsequently translations of the Hebrew Bible were made into several other languages, including Latin. The Latin translations were the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.

In AD 382, Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome, and commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin, which became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible, which was declared by the Church, in 1546 at the Council of Trent, as the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.

Since the Protestant Reformation, the Bible has been translated in to many more languages, and the Bible has a large number of English language translations.

The Draft of Fishes on stained glass, Canterbury Cathedral

PD Photo: The Miraculous Draft of Fishes (first miracle), stained glass (detail), Ministry of Jesus window, Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site in Kent.

There are several categories of miracles performed by Jesus Christ, such as healing people, controlling nature, exorcisms, resurrection of the dead, and the transfiguration of Jesus himself.

The canonical Gospels report cases of Jesus healing the blind. Jesus curing a leper appears in Matthew (8:1-4), Mark (1:40-45) and Luke (5:12-16). Healing the paralytic at Capernaum appears in Matthew (9:1-8), Mark (2:1-12) and Luke (5:17-26). Curing a bleeding woman appears in Mark (5:21-43), Matthew (9:18-26) and Luke (8:40-56). Jesus healing an infirm woman appears in Luke (13:10-17).

Healing a man with dropsy is described in Luke (14:1-6) and healing the deaf mute of Decapolis miracle appears in the Gospel of Mark (7:31-37). Healing the Centurion's servant is in Matthew (8:5-13) and Luke (7:1-10). Jesus healing in the land of Gennesaret appears in Matthew (14:34-36) and Mark (6:53-56).

According to the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus performed many exorcisms (not mentioned in the Gospel of John). The major exorcism accounts detailed include exorcising at the Synagogue in Capernaum, exorcising the Gerasenes demonic, exorcising the Canaanite woman's daughter, exorcising a blind and mute man, exorcising a boy possessed by a demon, etc.

All four canonical Gospels report Jesus' own resurrection from the dead but the Gospels also relate three other occasions on which Jesus calls a dead person back to life: daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:21-43), the young man from Nain (Luke 7:11-17), and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44).

The Gospels include accounts concerning Jesus' power over nature such as turning water into wine, the miracle of draught of fishes, walking on water, calming the storm, finding a coin in the fish's mouth, cursing a fig tree (it withered on Jesus’ curse). There are two miracles on feeding multitudes of people: The Feeding of the 5000 (also known as ‘the miracle of the five loaves and two fish’), and The Feeding of the 4000 (also known as ‘the miracle of the seven loaves and fishes’).

These are just a short account of some of the miracles, and if all the miracles of Jesus are detailed, there wont be space anywhere on earth to store them, some writers claim. There are also many debates about the genuineness of these miracles, and these were going on for centuries, and will go on as long as religion and faith exist on earth.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Konrad Witz: Miraculous catch of fish, the second miracle of Jesus

PD Image: Miraculous catch of fish - Draft of Petrur (Peter's altar table), a 1444 tempera on wood painting by the medieval German painter Konrad Witz (or Conrad Witz, 1400-1445/ 47), dimensions 132 cm x 154 cm, located at Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (Art and History Museum) in the historical city of Saint-Denis, in the northern suburbs of Paris, France.

According to the Gospel of John, after the Resurrection of Jesus, seven of the disciples of Jesus (Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two others) went for fishing one evening, but caught no fish that night. Early the next morning, Jesus, whom they had not recognized, called out to them from the shore, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"

When said, "No", Jesus said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did so, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Realizing the true identity of their advisor, the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!," at which Peter jumped into the water to meet him, while the remaining disciples followed in the boat, towing the net, which had 153 large fish, which Jesus then cooked and ate some of the fish with the disciples.

The precise number of fish as 153 has long been debated by scholars, some of them arguing that the number 153 has some deeper, hidden significance or symbolism, and many conflicting theories having been put forward. Theologian D. A. Carson suggests, "If the Evangelist has some symbolism in mind connected with the number 153, he has hidden it well," while other scholars note, "No symbolic significance for the number of 153 fish in John 21:11 has received widespread support."

Raphael: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

PD Image: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (1515), painting by Raphael shows Jesus in the boat with fishes (first miracle).

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes refers to two miracles attributed to Jesus in the Christian canonical Gospels, in which the apostles were fishing unsuccessfully in the Sea of Galilee when Jesus told them to cast the net again and when they did so, they were rewarded with great catches.

According to Luke, on the day of this FIRST miracle, Jesus was preaching near the Lake of Genesareth (Sea of Galilee), when he saw two boats. Boarding the boat of Simon (Peter), and moving out a little from shore Jesus preached to the people from the boat, and said to Peter, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."

To this, Peter answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

But to everyone’s surprise, "they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break," and they had to seek help from another boat. Seeing the huge haul of fish which filled both boats almost to the sinking point, Peter fell at Jesus' feet and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"

Jesus advised Peter and his partners James and John, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men," after which the men left everything and followed Jesus.

Paul Cezanne: The Large Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)

PD Image: The Large Bathers (1898-1905), oil on canvas painting by French painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906); dimensions 210.5 cm x 250.8 cm (82 7/8 in x 98 3/4 in) located at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, United States.

The Large Bathers (Deutsch: Die großen Badenden, Français: Les Grandes Baigneuses) is often considered the masterpiece of Paul Cézanne. First exhibited in 1906, this painting is the largest of a series of paintings with the same title ‘The Bathers’ by Cézanne. The others are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the National Gallery, London.

This painting is generally referred to as ‘The Large Bathers’ to distinguish it from other paintings of Cezanne’s ‘Bathers’ series and it is considered one of the masterpieces of Modern Art. The painting was featured in ‘100 Great Paintings’ a television series created by Edwin Mullins for BBC Two in 1980.

Because of the technique employed in painting landscapes and still lives, The Large Bathers often compared to the works of Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sankaracharya: by Raja Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma - Sankaracharya


Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Ludwig Ferdinand - Apocalypse

PD Image: Apocalypse (1831), attributed to Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1788-1853), location - private collection, other details unknown.

Giotto: The Kiss of Judas, Fresco at Arena Chapel

PD Image: The Kiss of Judas (1304-06), Fresco painting, 200 cm x 185 cm, by Italian painter and architect Giotto di Bondone (better known as just Giotto, 1267-1337) at Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padova (Scenes from the Life of Christ: 15, The Arrest of Christ).

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Last Supper

PD Image: The Last Supper, late 19th century painting by the Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), showing Judas Iscariot (right), one of the twelve original apostles of Jesus, retiring from the supper.

The Gospel of Judas

Codex Tchacos p33

PD Image: The first page of the Gospel of Judas (Page 33 of Codex Tchacos)

PD Image: The first page of the ‘The Gospel of Judas’ at page 33 of Codex Tchacos, an ancient Egyptian Coptic papyrus containing early Christian Gnostic texts from approximately 300 AD.

The Gospel of Judas is purported to document conversations between Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot. It is not written by Judas himself, but by the followers of Jesus in an early fourth-century Coptic text.

According to the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Judas identified Jesus to Jerusalem's Temple authorities, who handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate, representative of the occupying Roman Empire, for crucifixion. But the Gospel of Judas interprets Judas's act not as betrayal, but rather as an act of obedience to the instructions of Jesus, as Jesus required a second agent to set in motion a course of events which he had planned, and that would end in his crucifixion.

According to the Gospel of Judas, Jesus told Judas, "You shall be cursed for generations", and then added, "You will come to rule over them" and "You will exceed all of them, for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." Judas thus served Jesus Christ by helping to release Christ's soul from its mortal, physical constraints.

The Gospel of Judas does not claim that the other disciples knew Gnostic teachings, but it asserts that they had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Iscariot, the sole follower belonging to the "holy generation" among the disciples.

According to Elaine Pagels, Bible translators have mistranslated the Greek word for "handing over" to "betrayal".

For centuries, many philosophers have contemplated that Judas was required to have carried out his actions in order for Jesus to have died on the cross and hence fulfill theological obligations. The Gospel of Judas, however, asserts clearly that Judas' action was in obedience to a direct command of Jesus himself.

In Martin Scorsese's 1988 American film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, adapted from the controversial 1960 novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis, Judas Iscariot's only motivation in betraying Jesus to the Romans was to help him, as Jesus' closest friend, through doing what no other disciple could bring himself to do. It shows Judas obeying Jesus' covert request to help him fulfill his destiny to die on the cross, making Judas the catalyst for the event later interpreted as bringing about humanity's salvation. This view of Judas Iscariot is reflected in the recently discovered Gospel of Judas.

The Codex Tchacos, a leather-bound Coptic papyrus was discovered during the 1970s, near Beni Masah in Egypt. It was translated and appears to be a text from the late 2nd century AD describing the story of Jesus's death from the viewpoint of Judas. The conclusion of the text refers to the text as "the Gospel of Judas".

The manuscript was radiocarbon dated "between the third and fourth century", according to Timothy Jull, a carbon-dating expert at the University of Arizona's physics centre.

The manuscript is now in over a thousand pieces, due to poor handling and storage, with many sections missing. According to Rodolphe Kasser, the codex originally contained 31 pages, with writing on front and back. When it came to the market in 1999, only 13 pages, with writing on front and back, remained. It is speculated that individual pages had been removed and sold.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ko Tapu, James Bond Island, Thailand

PD Photos: Ko Tapu islet, 40 meters west of Khao Phing Kan (James Bond Island), a part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park, on the west coast of Thailand, in the Phang Nga Bay, Andaman Sea.

Ko Tapu is a limestone rock formation (an islet), which is about 20 meters (66 feet) tall with the diameter increasing from about 4 meters (13 feet) at water level to about 8 meters (26 feet) at the top. It lies about 40 meters (130 feet) to the west from the northern part of Khao Phing Kan, popularly known as James Bond Island, which is actually a two-island pair located on the west coast of Thailand, in the Phang Nga Bay, Andaman Sea. The island is a part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park.

In the Permian period, the entire area was a barrier reef, which ruptured due to tectonic plate movements, dispersing the broken reefs over the area flooded by the rising sea. Strong winds, waves, water currents and tides gradually eroded them partially, and the remaining portions formed islands, sometimes forming peculiar shapes, such as Ko Tapu. Erosion by tides is clearly visible at the bottom of Ko Tapu.

In Thai language Ko Tapu means ‘nail’ or ‘spike’ island (named after its shape). The island was selected as a location for the 1974 James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, starring Roger Moore, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland in key roles. The island was filmed as the hideout for Bond's antagonist, Francisco Scaramanga (the titular ‘Man with the Golden Gun’, played by Christopher Lee).

After the movie was released, Khao Phing Kan Island, and sometimes Ko Tapu, became popularly known as James Bond Island, and it rapidly became a very popular international tourist destination in Thailand. Now the original name of the island is rarely used even by local Thai people.

Since 1998, it is forbidden for tourist boats to approach Ko Tapu, to stop further erosion of the limestone due to waves on and near the islet that might eventually result in its collapse.