March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Affumicatura is a process by which smoke and heat are applied to a plate after a hard ground has been put down and allowed to dry. Carbon particles from the smoke mix with the temporarily softened ground, making it darker and, when cool, harder.
The plate is usually suspended from a wire frame, ground facing down, while a burning paraffin wick or alcohol soaked cotton is waved underneath it. It is not necessary to also smoke a cigarette while smoking the plate.
“Elephas Indus culices non timet”
March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Above the door to the aula of the Biblioteca Malatestiniana in Cesena is the emblem of the Malatesta family, a large-eared elephant with a banner bearing the Latin motto “Elephas Indus culices non timet”, (The Indian elephant is not afraid of gnats.) Possibly a reference to the Malatesta’s traditional enemy, the Da Polenta family of Ravenna, a city infested with annoying insects, the emblem also appears today on the ATMs of the Banca di Cesena.
(In Aesop’s fable of the lion and the elephant, the lion confesses to a deathly fear of roosters. As they are speaking, a gnat came whizzing by and the elephant says, “Do you see this little thing, this little buzzing thing? If it gets inside my ear, I’m doomed.” “Well then,” the lion concluded, “why should I die of shame? I am an excellent creature indeed, and in much better shape than this elephant: roosters are more formidable than gnats, after all!” You see what strength a gnat must have, given that he provokes such fear in the elephant.)
Renaissance portrait medal celebrating Isotta deli Atti, the famously beautiful mistress of Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. The elephant depicted on the reverse is a symbol of the Malatesta, proclaiming fortitude. Cast 1453-1455, Matteo de’ Pasti, Verona. Victoria and Albert Museum.
March 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Lo scheletro di un elefante della Sicilia, Elephas mnaidriensis, che documenta le forme ridotte di taglia insulari mediterranee.
Museo Paleontologico e Preistorico “Piero Leonardi”
Dipartimento di Biologia ed Evoluzione – Corso Ercole I d’Este, 32 – 44121 Ferrara
The Name Annone
March 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
Annone- pronounced “ahn-o-ney”
“According to zoologists, elephants do not respond to pet names…they are only given names to distinguish one from another in a herd.” S. Bedini, The Pope’s Elephant (Manchester, 1997)
aana or ana- Malayalam (the language spoken in Kerala) for elephant. T.A. Burrow, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, (Oxford, 1961)
ani- 16th century Malayalam word then in use for elephant. Garcia da Orta, Coloquios, (1563)
anne– Malabar word for elephant. Cristobal de Acosta, Trattato, (Venice, 1585)
The Romans named the beast Annone, or Big Anno, adding the augmentative suffix “-one” to what they heard when they asked the mahout what the elephant was called.
(A white elephant brought to Holland from India in 1655 was given the name Hansken, the Dutch diminutive of “aana”. Rembrandt drew Hansken.)
Annone was later anglicized to “Hanno”.
anno- Italian word meaning “year”
ano– Italian word meaning “anus”
anone– is not really an Italian word, but means literally, “big anus”.
The difference in pronunciation between “anone” and “annone” is subtle, but distinguishable.
Elephantographia Curiosa, 1715
March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
March 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
1 Festivities for the Duc D’Anjou, 1582
2 A woodcut from the Dutch town of Gouda c1490.
3 Giant Elephant, Paris, 1758
4 From the children’s book, Mamma’s Present, 1801 (London)
5 The Voyage of Sir John Mandeville, 1727
6 Vedute Degli Obelische e Scelte Fontane, Rome, 1839
7 Bernini’s Elephant, from Kirchner, 1666
8 Vegetius, De Re Militari, 1592
9 Libellus de Natura Animalium, Italian Bestiary, 1508-1512
10 Titlepage of the Royal Law of Frederick III, King of Denmark, 1665
11 Trophees Medallique, Chesneau, 1661
12 Elephantographia, Hartenfels, 1715
From the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon
March 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
ORDEM DE AFONSO DE ALBUQUERQUE AO ALMOXARIFE DOS MANTIMENTOS DA FORTALEZA DE COCHIM, EM QUE MANDA ENTREGAR AO MEIRINHO DA GALÉ OS 2 NEGROS ESCRAVOS QUE FAZEM DE COMER AOS ELEFANTES. Corpo Cronológico, Parte II, mç. 43, n.º 68 1514
ORDEM DE AFONSO DE ALBUQUERQUE A ÁLVARO LOPES, ALMOXARIFE DOS MANTIMENTOS DE COCHIM, EM QUE LHE MANDA DAR, PARA OS HOMENS PORTUGUESES QUE VÃO NA NAU DOS ELEFANTES, 1 FARDO DE ARROZ, MEIO QUINTAL DE BISCOITO E 2 CANADAS DE MANTEIGA PARA SEU MANTIMENTO Corpo Cronológico, Parte II, mç. 44, n.º 99 1513
“We seek Christians and Spices”
March 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Vimos buscar cristãos e especiaria”
One factor that launched the European Age of Discovery was the high price of black pepper. In 1498, Portuguese captain Vasco da Gama sailed around the tip of Africa to reach the Malabar Coast of India, where pepper was grown, bypassing for the first time the ancient trade route through the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Alexandria and the Mediterranean, controlled by Arab and Venetian traders. Asked by Arabs in Calicut why they had come, the Portuguese replied, “we seek Christians and spices.”
Following the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, and its subsequent modification approved by Pope Julius II in 1516, Portugal could claim exclusive imperial rights to the India spice trade. Their network of ships, forts and colonies dominated the pepper trade until the Arab-Venetian network reasserted itself, and control eventually passed to the English and Dutch.
“In the center foreground, the carefully delineated principal ship is a large, armed Portuguese merchant carrack. She is shown firing a salute to port and starboard. This is thought to be the ‘Santa Caterina’. The ‘Santa Caterina’ was built in order to serve as one of the large merchant ships of the Portuguese East Indies trade. She was constructed of teak at Cochin, India in 1510.” Painting and text; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Lord Caird Collection
Here is a link to a film of the launch of a Poruguese “nau”, or carrack, of the type used to transport Annone from Cochin to Lisbon in 1510.
March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
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SFAAM, Demons and a Composite Elephant, 1750-1790
SFAAM, Demon Riding a Composite Elephant, 1770-1800
Harvard Art Museum, Composite Elephant, c. 1730
Composite Elephant deconstructed by Fred Halper
Suzanna Fisher, Seattle, Tattoo