Friday, November 29, 2013

PARIS - The Louvre's Small Antiquities

Cast your mind back to the days of the pharoahs, and let your mind imagine what these carved art works were used for. The quality is excellent; the tools were ancient.

Louvre Museum Antiquities, Paris, by DG Hudson

The carved tablets, the ivory-colored carved face mask or shard, and the finely carved or modelled statues of oxen illustrate artistic skill.


Egyptian artifacts such as those shown in the photo below show the fascination other cultures have had for the feline species. The earliest appearance of cats as deities is around 3100 BC. The goddess Bastet* was originally depicted as a lioness, as was Sekhmet.* Bastet later was shown with a cat face, while Sekhmet stayed a lioness.

Egyptian Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris by DG Hudson

Praised for controlling vermin (rats, etc) and the ability to kill cobras and other snakes, domesticated cats became a symbol that was worshipped in Ancient Egypt. Felines have been around a long time, possibly 10,000 years according to recent DNA tests.


Turquoise and Lapis lazuli were preferred for use in many of the ancient designs. We can glimpse antiquity, a time far removed from today, when we view these art works. Here is evidence that it existed. Cast pieces and carved pieces have survived due in part to the protection of the museums and galleries where they are shown.

Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris, by DG Hudson

Antiquities items in the following image show detail in the crafting of the pipe and the smoothness of the metal, both achieved with the same finesse as the ceramic artifacts. The cast figures are quite detailed in both the displays, above and below.

Egyptian Antiquity artifacts, Louvre in Paris, by DG Hudson

Museums collect and protect our history.  If you are a writer, you should frequent any location that gives you information on 'what was'.  To write 'what may come to be' (scifi) or to write 'what has already been' (historical), you must know your beginnings. Of course, that's my take on museums and how they relate to writing.


Were these small artifacts created for nobility only? Did they come from a household or from a tomb? What history hides behind these artifacts? Have you watched Museum Secrets?
Museum Secrets: The Louvre

Please share your thoughts in the comments and thanks for stopping by!


Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre
Cats in Egypt
Bastet, the Cat Goddess in ancient Egyptian religion in Lower Egypt

* Bastet was the equivalent to Upper Egypt's Sekhmet, before the two regions joined forces.


Monday, November 11, 2013

The Spirit Bear and the Great Bear Rainforest

One of the rarest creatures in the world, a Kermode bear, is a sub-species of the Black Bear family.

Spirit Bear, Great Bear Rainforest - Wiki images

The Spirit Bear

Or Kermode bear
Ursus americanus kermodei, pronounced kerr-MO-dee.

These special bears have a recessive genetic anomoly which produces the white or champagne-colored fur. Numbering only in the hundreds, this species could be drastically reduced by destruction of its feeding grounds through oil pollution.

The natural habitat of the Spirit Bear is the Great Bear Rainforest, a large pristine area including coastal waters, which protects many species. It would take decades to recover from losses to the whale populations, bird populations, salmon and halibut fishing, and wildlife tourism. The side effects of the loss to the food chain would be noticeable. Oil suffocates.

Kermode bears are called Spirit Bears, particularly by the First Nations tribes of British Columbia. Officially, these bears are named after a director of the Royal British Columbia Museum, Francis Kermode, who researched the Kermode sub-species.
The Spirit Bear lives in the central and north coast of British Columbia, Canada. See wiki map below.

Wikipedia map of BC and Great Bear Rainforest area



The Vancouver Sun Newspaper - 'Great Bear Rainforest a region to promote, not pollute; Northern Gateway: Pipeline decision makers should visit this pristine area to see just what is at risk.' by Michael McCarthy, travel writer. Commentary.

An excellent article with statistics on The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. That cleanup is still ongoing. Gale-force winds sweep down these passages, increasing the chances of an accident. The same problem that affects the bears will eventually affect us.

No one except big business wants the oil pipelines in their backyard. Would you?


Have you heard of Spirit Bears? Should we have more animal conservation sites, with stronger rules and regulations? If there's only one habitat, shouldn't it be protected? Do you care about your environment, or about the green spaces like The Great Bear Rainforest?


References: Great Bear Rainforest Spirit Bear Site Wiki Kermode bear


Friday, November 1, 2013

'Parisians' by Graham Robb - A City and its People

Is a city shaped by its citizens or are the citizens shaped by their city? Imagine taking a time-machine trip into the past and dropping in on the jazz scene in 50s Paris or watching from a horse as Napoleon's vision of the city unfolds before you. Graham Robb takes us on a similar trip with his novel, Parisians.

Parisians by Graham Robb, pub. 2010

An Adventure History of Paris

From Napoleon's first romantic liaison in the big city, to Marie Antoinette's wrong turn, from Madame Zola to the Day of the Fox, and back to the jazz scene of Miles Davis and Juliette Greco of St. Germaine-des-Pres. We learn about the men and women who lived in Paris and helped shape its future. From the unprincipled Vidocq, the notorious head of Paris Intelligence, we learn the basics of spying and questionable police methods.

In a photo of Marville, an area of Paris, we see Baudelaire's childhood home and decades later, Jack Kerouac spends time in a cafe there, circa 1950s. The building has only changed slightly, while man passed by. War and occupation were miserable times for the native Parisians, as we learn how it felt and what one did to cope. Stories of Notre Dame and its mysteries, Marcel Proust and the new Metro, the adventures of Mitterand, and the 'amazing courage' of Charles De Gaulle.

Parisians, published in 2010, contains twenty stories from Napoleon's time up to and including the building of the Peripherique, a perimeter road that encircles Old Paris. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Parisians also made Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.

I recommend Parisians, if you like French history stirred with fiction. Two faves in this book: Lovers of St. Germain des Pres (about Miles Davis and Juliette Greco) and the Notre Dame Equation. The cover shown above is a print hardcopy.

Robb also wrote The Discovery of France, and biographies of Balzac,Victor Hugo and Rimbaud.


Notre Dame, Paris, in 2010, by DG Hudson


Do you like historical fiction? Interested in Paris' dark past? Do you know of Graham Robb, the author? (UK) Have you heard of the Inspector of questionable origins, Vidocq?
Please share in the comments and thanks for dropping by!


References: About the Author, Graham Robb Vidocq, first private detective Greco celebrates past affair with Miles Davis