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.


Il Mago

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.

Elefante Bianco

“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.

Elephas mnaidriensis

March 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Elephas mnaidriensis

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

from Elephantographia Curiosa, Hartenfels, 1715

Elefantasia 1

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


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