The Jeweled Skeletons were originally found in catacombs beneath Rome in 1578, and distributed as replacements under the belief they were Christian martyrs to churches that had lost their saint relics in the Reformation. However, for most, their identities were not known. The receiving churches then spent years covering the revered skeletal strangers with jewels and golden clothing, even filling their eye sockets and sometimes adorning their teeth with finery. Yet when the Enlightenment came around they became a little embarrassing for the sheer amount of money and excess they represented, and many were hidden away or disappeared. Koudounaris tracked down the dead survivors. [ x ] [ x ] [ x ]


Isis and Nefertari, from the Tomb of Nefertari, New Kingdom (mural), Egyptian 19th Dynasty (c.1297-1185 BC) / Valley of the Queens, Thebes, Egypt / Giraudon / Bridgeman Images


Mamluk Knife with Decorated Scabbard

  • Dated: 14th - 16th century 
  • Measurements: overall length 21.5 cm; blade length 11 cm

The blade is made of watered steel decorated with three embedded coral beads and the inscription "The time of the reign of Sultan Malik Zahir". On the reverse of the blade reads, "Fly high, bird of distress and revenge, your rigor and fairness affirm human fate".

The knife has a square tapered handle of blue glass. The ivory scabbard is richly inlaid with mother of pearl, brass and stones, representing the heavens, with gilt silver fittings with garnets and turquoise.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Galerie Arcimboldo

Artoria Gibbons (16 July 1893-18 Mar. 1985), tattooed lady, was born Anna Mae Burlingston in Linwood, Wisconsin, the daughter of the Norwegian immigrant and farmer Gunder Huseland, who at the time went by the name Frank Burlingston, and his wife Amma Mabel Mason. Anna was one of seven children. The farm was located on an island in the Wisconsin River that was referred to as “Treasure Island” or “Burlingston Island.” In 1907 the family moved to Colville, Washington, and shortly thereafter, Anna’s father died. She and two of her sisters went to work as domestic servants in Spokane, Washington, to help support the family. She met the tattoo artist Charles “Red” Gibbons in Spokane; he was working in an arcade and had been tattooing professionally for a number of years. They married in Spokane in 1912; the couple had one daughter.

After several years of marriage, Gibbons and her husband decided that they would make a better living if she became a performing tattooed lady, so Charles Gibbons tattooed Anna with images from her favorite classical religious artwork, in full color. Anna Gibbons was a deeply religious woman and a lifetime member of the Episcopalian Church. Her tattoos included illustrations of angels and saints as well as patriotic images, including George Washington.

Gibbons’s first season as “Artoria, tattooed girl” was in 1919, with the Pete Kortes Show. She then went on to work with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus’s “Greatest Show on Earth” from 1920 until 1924, after which she joined the Hagenbeck-Wallace Sideshow Annex. In 1925 and 1926 she worked for the Kortes and McKay’s Museum in Los Angeles; dime museums were popular venues for sideshow freaks. For the 1927 and 1931 seasons, Gibbons was back with Ringling Bros., working for the Clyde Ingalls Sideshow. Both Gibbons and her husband worked for the Foley and Burk Shows during 1932 and 1933 and for the Johnny J. Jones Sideshow during the mid-1930s.

Anna worked as Artoria in the sideshow while Charles tattooed customers. A sideshow tattooed lady would stand on a platform or small stage within the sideshow tent and talk about herself—though the stories that sideshow performers told to audiences were usually false. The stories were intended to entertain audiences and were often based on popular culture of the day. The tattooed lady also wore clothing that revealed her tattooed body; Artoria is usually pictured wearing a skirt that falls just above her knees and a sleeveless top. Because her tattoos were a major part of the exhibition, they had to be visible.

When they were not with the sideshow, which toured seasonally from April through October, the Gibbonses lived in California, where Charles tattooed regularly in arcades and amusement parks. Anna retired from the sideshow temporarily in 1947 to care for her ailing husband. Charles was the victim of both a brutal robbery and a construction accident; following several unsuccessful surgeries, he completely lost his vision in 1946. By 1956 Gibbons decided to return to work, taking Charles with her. She had waited to return to show business until her husband was able to travel with her, which he did until his death in 1964.

During the 1970s, Gibbons worked for several carnivals, including the Dell and Travis Carnival. This period saw the release of Arthur H. Lewis’s book Carnival (1970), an account of carnival life that Lewis researched through interviews with legendary performers. Carnival contains one of the most oft-told tales about Gibbons’s sideshow beginnings—namely, that when Gibbons was a teenager, she snuck out to see a visiting sideshow, met a tattoo artist, and ran away and married him in order to see the world. Although this story was repeatedly told, by Gibbons and others, it was a fiction—the type of tale that sideshow performers included as a part of their act.

In 1978 Gibbons was hired by Ward Hall, the owner of Hall and Christ Sideshow, whom she had met years earlier while working at Hubert’s Dime Museum in New York’s Times Square. This was her last sideshow. Gibbons retired from the Hall and Christ Sideshow in 1981, and at the end of the carnival season she went to live with her daughter’s family in Tennessee.

When Gibbons died at age ninety-one, she had performed as a tattooed lady for well more than fifty years. She saw many changes in the American circus and sideshow over the course of her career: the circus went from being one of the main entertainment venues at the beginning of the twentieth century to just one of many popular culture options available at the end of the century. In addition, views on tattooing and tattoos changed radically. By the time Gibbons retired, tattooed ladies were no longer a novelty; many people, including women, had tattoos. She was one of the last tattooed ladies to be actively working in the United States. (via)


Bronze Dagger

  • Dated: 19th century
  • Medium: bronze
  • Measurements: overall length 23 cm

The handle of the dagger is ornate with a skeleton around which a snake is coiled.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Expertissim


I made this zine for my sis on inspirational Japanese people. 

**To my dearest sister Rhiannon,
There is nothing more liberating than 
acceptance and pride of one’s own diversity.**


Bracelets from ancient Iran.

The first one is from the Achaemenid period (550-330 BCE), and made of silver. The remaining bronze bracelets are from western Iran, and date to 1000-650 BCE.

Courtesy of the LACMA, via their online collectionsM.88.79M.76.97.288, & M.76.97.285.


Women in the United States Forces in Britain: Hundreds of United States nurses underwent a toughening up course in preparation for the opening of the second front, where their job would be to follow the troops of liberation and establish hospital units. Lieutenant Louise Erman throwing her Ju-Jitsu instructor Major Strom during an unarmed combat class.”



"Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Books are weapons in the war of ideas", 1941 - 1945

From the series: World War II Posters, 1942 - 1945

Banned Books Week is September 21 - 27, 2014


The Bushmans Kloof rock art site in the Cederberg region of South Africa.

Recently awarded the status of a South African National Heritage Site, Bushmans Kloof contains over 130 rock art sites, some of which date to 10,000 years before present.

Stained with oxide pigments, these rocks depict the spiritual and cultural legacy of the San (also known as Bushmen), who have lived in these mountains for some 120,000 years. A particular point of interest about this rock art for some is the depictions of about 30 Cape mountain zebra, which are today endangered, with only about 1,200 remaining worldwide. Antelopes such as the eland, black wildebeest, and springbok are also depicted.

Recommended reading & food for thought: ‘Access to Rock Art Sites: A Right or a Qualification?’ By Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu iThe South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 64, No. 189 (JUNE 2009), pp. 61-68

Photos taken by mlaaker. The contrast and tone of the original images have been readjusted. 


From Ah Wilderness

Nadav Kander

The head of a funerary couch in the form of a cheetah with tears falling from his eyes.

Book: Tutankhamen’s Treasures

The photography of Dennis Hopper 1961-1967

During the 1960s, Dennis Hopper carried a camera everywhere—on film sets and locations, at parties, in diners, bars and galleries, driving on freeways and walking on political marches. He photographed movie idols, pop stars, writers, artists, girlfriends, and complete strangers. Along the way he captured some of the most intriguing moments of his generation with a keen and intuitive eye. A reluctant icon at the epicenter of that decade’s cultural upheaval, Hopper documented the likes of Tina Turner in the studio, Andy Warhol at his first West Coast show, Paul Newman on set, and Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. (via)

Burgonet, Filippo Negroli, 1543.
“This masterpiece of Renaissance metalwork is signed on the browplate by Filippo Negroli, whose embossed armor was praised by sixteenth-century chroniclers as “miraculous” and deserving “immortal merit.” Made from one plate of steel patinated to look like bronze, the bowl is raised in high relief with motifs inspired by classical art. The graceful mermaid forming the helmet’s comb holds the grimacing head of Medusa by the hair. The sides of the helmet are covered with acanthus scrolls inhabited by putti, a motif probably derived from the Roman wall frescoes rediscovered in the Golden House of Nero.”


Today in history: 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963
September 15, 2014

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was used as a meeting-place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shutterworth. Tensions became high when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) became involved in a campaign to register African American to vote in Birmingham.

On Sunday, 15th September, 1963, a white man was seen getting out of a white and turquoise Chevrolet car and placing a box under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Soon afterwards, at 10.22 a.m., the bomb exploded killing Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14). The four girls had been attending Sunday school classes at the church. Twenty-three other people were also hurt by the blast.

Civil rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings. Only a week before the bombing he had told the New York Times that to stop integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”

A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite.

The case was unsolved until Bill Baxley was elected attorney general of Alabama. He requested the original Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the case and discovered that the organization had accumulated a great deal of evidence against Chambliss that had not been used in the original trial.

In November, 1977 Chambliss was tried once again for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Now aged 73, Chambliss was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Chambliss died in an Alabama prison on 29th October, 1985.

On 17th May, 2000, the FBI announced that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the Cahaba Boys. It was claimed that four men, Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the crime. Cash was dead but Blanton and Cherry were arrested and Blanton has since been tried and convicted.