Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curious History: Moneygami

Origami, obviously one of the coolest paper craft techniques, was recently taken to another level by Japanese graphic designer and origami expert Yosuke Hasegawa. Yosuke is representing a new art form called “moneygami” by taking different money bills from all around the world and folding them in the manner of origami, he has created an incredible collection of world leaders donning various hats.
Here you can see Abe Lincoln and Gandhi with baseball caps, Queen Elizabeth with turban and even Hussein with sombrero all made of a single dollar bill. According to the artist, he wanted “to make people happy with spending money” and has even created a free Moneygami app that teaches how to make Kid Lincoln out of a five dollar bill.

Curious History: The World’s Longest and Shortest Named Cities

The second longest geographical name that is accepted in the world is “Taumatawhakatangihangak oauauotamateaturipukaka pikimaungahoronukupokaiwhe nua kitanatahu” (85 letters) which is a hill in New Zealand – it is a maori phrase which translates to “place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one”. It was the longest until recently (though the Guinness Book of Records still regards it as the longest).
A city in Thailand is called Krung thep maha nakorn amorn ratana kosin­mahintar ayutthay amaha dilok phop noppa ratrajathani burirom udom rajaniwes­mahasat harn amorn phimarn avatarn sathit sakkattiya visanukamprasit (163 letters). This translates to “The land of angels, the great city of immortality, of devine gems, the great angelic land unconquerable land of nine nobel gems, the royal city, a pleasant capital place of the Royal Palace, eternal land of angels and reincarnated spirits predestined and created by the highest Devas.”
The shortest named city is simply “Å” it is located in both Sweden and Norway. In Scandinavian languages, “Å” means “river”. The image above is one of the newly replaced road signs for the area – they are frequently stolen for their novelty value.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Curious History: The Origins and History of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween)

Halloween’s origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe’s Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year’s Day, called Samhain (SAH-win). According to Irish mythology, Samhain was a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for fairies and the dead to communicate with us; Samhain was essentially a festival for the dead.
On Samhain eve—what we know as Halloween—spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad. It is still the custom in some areas to set a place at the Samhain feast for the souls of dead kinfolk and to tell tales of one’s forebears. However, the souls of thankful kin could return to bestow blessings just as easily as that of a murdered person could return to wreak revenge. Fairies were also thought to steal humans on Samhain and fairy mounds were to be avoided.
People stayed near to home or, if forced to walk in the darkness, turned their clothing inside-out or carried iron or salt to keep the fairies at bay. The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks was a bid to befuddle the harmful spirits or ward them off. In Scotland, young men would dress in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. They were known as ‘guisers’ and the practice was common in the 16th century in the Scottish countryside. Candle lanterns, carved from turnips, were part of the traditional festival. Large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and set on windowsills to ward off evil spirits.
Samhain was later transformed as Christian leaders co-opted pagan holidays. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. The night before Samhain continued to be observed with bonfires, costumes, and parades, though under a new name: All Hallows’ Eve—later “Halloween.”
Children going door to door ‘guising’ or ‘galoshin’ in costumes and masks, carrying turnip lanterns, offering entertainment of in return for food or coins, was traditional in the 19th century and continued well into the 20th century. At the time of mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration, the custom of Halloween in North America began.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Curious History: Vintage Halloween Greeting, 1800s

Curious History: The Newest Japanese Fashion Trend - Mood-Sensing Cat Tails

A Japanese company is making it just a little easier for humans to act like cats. But instead of offering nine lives, Japan’s Neurowear has introduced a wearable cat tail that wags when a user’s mood changes.

Called Shippo - Japanese for “tail”- the device debuted at Saturday’s Tokyo Games Show and comes as the latest in a new line of products that read users’ brain waves. Adding a new twist, Shippo uses a headset, a clip-on heart monitor, and a neural smart phone app to read the wearer’s brain waves and sense his or her mood. Once that fluffy tail is wagging, the device tags the wearer’s mood to a location online, which can be shared with other users.

As a company, Neurowear has released more than just cat tails. The company has also released a line of wag-able cat ears which also read human brain waves and wiggle with mood.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Curious History: Dr. Seuss’ World War II Malaria Awareness Pamphlet and Newsmap

Dr. Seuss uses his witty writing skills to promote malaria awareness to the troops fighting overseas during World War II. Ann is the mosquito that will bite the poor G.I. and in eight to fourteen days, he will develop malaria. Truly a curious route to warn soldiers about the danger of malaria.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Curious History: "The Tattooist" by Norman Rockwell

Rockwell used a neighbor, Clarence Decker, as the sailor in the "Tattooist", 1944. Decker was ‘Master of the Grange’ in Arlington, and shows up in quite a few of Rockwell’s illustrations. 
The Tattoo Archive received an email from Ross Mosher, who is the great, great nephew of Clarence Decker, the sailor model for The Tattooist, which read:

“Clarence didn’t have a single tattoo in real life. Also the last name on his arm is Betty – that’s because my great, great aunt Belle told Norman that if he put her name in the painting, she wouldn’t speak to him ever again. So Norman crossed the L’s and added a Y.”

Curious History: An Inuit Child Mummy, Greenland

The haunting face of an Inuit child who died in Greenland in the 1400s. In 1972, hunters roaming near an abandoned Inuit settlement called Qilakitsoq chanced upon the graves of eight people. Six women and two children that had been buried in the mid-15th century beneath an overhanging rock that sheltered the burial site from sunlight, rain, and snow. Slowly but steadily, dry winds and subzero temperatures freeze-dried their remains as well as their sealskin and fur clothing. Museum curators today sometimes use a similar process of freeze-drying to conserve unearthed bog bodies and organic artifacts.