The stony gaze of the statue upon his executor says it all. Most of the bronze “men” that once watched over Parisian streets and public squares of the French Third Republic met a most undignified end many years ago, snatched from their pedestals and erased from the history books. During the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, the co-operating Vichy government ordered the removal and destruction of all metal monuments and statues for the purpose of remelting, unless considered to be of “historical or artistic interest” to the new regime. In other words, sculptures that symbolised democracy, liberal policies, progression, the avant-garde and generally anything that might have offended the Germans, was deemed “ugly” and radical and sent straight to a hellish grave of twisted metal and fallen statues.
The British Library has a rich collection of Persian manuscripts, including finely illustrated and decorated manuscripts of the Iranian national epic, the Shahnamah of Ferdowsi, but also including a copy of the Razmnamah, the Persian version of the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata.
In this blog, I would like to highlight the similarities between two major heroic characters in the Shahnamah and the Mahabharata: Rustam and Arjuna. Common features and episodes involving these characters can be seen as an example of cultural exchanges between Iran and India which date back to ancient times, even though there is still no consensus among scholars about the extent of the influences of thought and culture of the two nations on each other. Due to the different cultural and geographical environments in which the epics were formed, like any other stories with common roots, the stories of Rustam and Arjuna also have differences. But these differences cannot prevent us from seeing the similarities between the two characters, indicating that the stories must have originated from a common source.
In 1993, a media studies professor at Fordham University named Edward Wachtel visited several famous caves in southern France, including Lascaux, Font-de-Gaume, Les Combarelles, and La Mouthe. His purpose: to study the cave art that has justly made these caves famous. Wachtel was puzzled by what he called “spaghetti lines” on the drawings, partially obscuring them. There were also images of, say, an ibex with two heads, a mammal with three trunks, or a bull drawing superimposed over the drawing of a deer.
His guide for the La Mouthe tour was a local farmer, and since there were no electric lights in this cave, the farmer brought along a gas lantern. When the farmer swung the lantern inside the cave, the color schemes shifted, and the engraved lines seemed to animate. “Suddenly, the head of one creature stood out clearly,” Wachtel recalled. “It lived for a second, then faded as another appeared.” As for those mysterious spaghetti lines, “they became a forest or a bramble patch that concealed and then reveled the animals within.”
The British have suffered for their fashion for centuries according to a new study suggesting that a vogue for shoes with a pointed tip led to a sharp increase in hallux valgus of the big toe - often called bunions - in the late medieval period.
Researchers investigating remains in Cambridge, UK, found that those buried in the town centre, particularly in plots for wealthier citizens and clergy, were much more likely to have had bunions - suggesting rich urbanites paid a higher price for their footwear in more ways than one.
A University of Cambridge team also discovered that older medieval people with hallux valgus were significantly more likely to have sustained a broken bone from a probable fall compared to those of a similar age with normal feet.
Hallux valgus is a minor deformity in which the largest toe becomes angled outward and a bony protrusion forms at its base, on the inside of the foot.