Month: March 2016

Monstrous Engravings: Plague Doctor!

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This is drawn from  a copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel [i.e Dr. Beak], a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, circa 1656.

Plague doctors served as public servants during the time of the Black Death of Europe in the fourteenth century. Their principal task, besides taking care of plague victims, was to record in public records the deaths due to the plague. Some of these “doctors” wore a special costume, although graphic sources show that plague doctors wore a variety of garments(and often had no medical training). The garments were invented by Charles de L’Orme in 1619; they were first used in Paris, but later spread to be used throughout Europe. The protective suit consisted of a heavy fabric overcoat that was waxed, a mask with glass eye openings and a cone nose shaped like a beak to hold scented substances. Some of the scented materials were ambergris, lemon balm,mint leaves, camphor, cloves,laudanum, myrrh, rose petals, storax. This was thought to protect the doctor from miasmatic bad air. There was also a bit of straw in the beak and this acted as a filter for the “bad air” that was thought to transmit the disease. Plague doctors also carried a  wooden cane pointer that was used to point to and examine the patient without having to touch them.

 

 

 

Gryphons: Minoan

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Early depictions of griffins in Ancient Greek art are found in the frescoes in the Throne Room of the Palace of Knossos, a chamber built for ceremonial purposes during the 15th century BC . It is found at the heart of the Bronze Age palace of Knossos,Crete, in Greece, one of the main centers of the Minoan civilization. The chamber contains an alabaster seat on the north wall, identified by Evans as a “throne”, while two  wingless griffins rest on each side. The Throne Room is considered the oldest throne room in Europe and was unearthed in 1900 by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, during the first phase of his excavations in Knossos.
The griffin/gryphon continued being a favored decorative theme in Archaic and Classical Greek art, although in earlier times they were brilliantly colored, and they protected kings and drew chariots of goddesses. In later Greek art the aspect of griffins changed. No longer protectors, they were then fierce beasts. Often molded in bronze, they featured hooked beaks, pointed ears and protruding tongues. In Greek vase paintings, the griffin is often depicted attacking other animals or men.

Dragons of Europe: Melusine!

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In the time of the Crusades, Elynas, the King of Albany (an old name for Scotland orAlba), went hunting one day and came across a beautiful lady in the forest. She was Pressyne, mother of Melusine. It is not clear whether he knew that she was of faierie blood. He persuaded her to marry him and she agreed, only on the promise that he must not enter her chamber when she birthed or bathed her children.  Pressyne gave birth to triplet daughters. When he violated this taboo, Pressyne left the kingdom, together with her three children—Melusine, Melior, and Palatyne— and traveled to the lost Isle of Avalon.

The three girls grew up in Avalon. On their fifteenth birthday, Melusine, the eldest, inquired as to why they had been brought to Avalon. Upon hearing of their father’s broken promise, Melusine sought revenge. She and her sisters captured Elynas and locked him, with his riches, in a mountain. Pressyne became enraged when she learned what the girls had done, and punished them for their dishonor to their father. Melusine was condemned to take the form of a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. In other stories, she takes on the form of a mermaid.

Raymond of Poitou came across Melusine in a forest of Coulombiers in Poitou in France, and proposed marriage. Just as her mother had done, she laid a condition: that he must never enter her chamber on a Saturday. He broke the promise and saw her in the form of a part-woman, part-serpent, but she forgave him. When, during a disagreement, he called her a “serpent” in front of his court, she assumed the form of a dragon, provided him with two magic rings, and flew off, never to return.

Movie Monster Tributes: Q – The Winged Serpent!

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Sometimes just known as “Q”,  this is a 1982 movie starring David Carradine and Michael Moriarty. Shepard (Carradine) is a New York City Cop investigating a series of ritual homicides. Bodies turn up mutilated in ways such as having the hearts cut out. Meanwhile, Jimmy Quinn (Moriarty) is a piano player and petty criminal who gets caught up in a jewelry store heist. When things go awry, he flees with the stolen jewels, abandoning his fellow crooks. He hides the loot in a forgotten attic space at the top of the Chrysler building,  and there he finds an enormous nest near a hole in the roof.
The two plot lines come together when Shepard figures out that an Aztec cult priest has been convincing victims to be semi- willing human sacrifices as he prays the ancient Aztec  serpent god Quetzalcoatl back into existence. Quetzalcoatl nests in the top of the Chrysler building, flying out on occasion to snatch unsuspecting New Yorkers from rooftops. Jimmy lures the other crooks to the nest and cheers as Q devours them. Then, for a promise of immunity and one million dollars, tax free, he informs Shepard where to find the nest.

Happy Easter: Celebrating Monstrous Eggs!

dad raptor

Happy Easter, everyone! Well, this year our glorious egg-filled holiday sneaked up on me,plus we have had a tragedy in our group of friends. I am trying to just be constructive today because I was not able to attend a visitation. When you have an animal rescue, you just can’t get up and go where you need to go that easily.
Anyway, with that said, let’s delve into some of my favorite EGGS from film and TV:

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