ca.1840, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Luciano Laurana
Built in the mid-fifteenth century by the Dalmatian architect Luciano Laurana (among many other prominent architects of the era, including Alberti, and later, Bramante) for the Duke Federico da Montefeltro, the Ducal Palace of Urbino was, at the time of its construction, the most modern palace in Italy, with its towers, perfectly round arches and courtyards surrounded by columns of white stone. Lorenzo the Magnificent himself had asked for the copy of the reliefs, while Ludovico Gonzaga of Mantua ordered for a detailed survey of the building. But no one could have imitated the light that flooded the palace from numerous courtyards on different levels, or the way it enhanced the ivory-coloured relief carvings.
Perched on the hill, the palace had transformed the entire city of Urbino into a court. Set in a radically different scenario compared to the Palazzo Medici in Florence (which had become a model for all similar schemes of the era), the palace was conceived as a symbol and instrument of family continuity, and represented the city’s renaissance and housed its fruits. With its spacious courtyards (built on the detailed designs by Leon Battista Alberti, as an homage to Brunelleschi and principles of early Florentine Renaissance), the palace conjured up its own beauty while retaining the rules and laws of classical architecture. The palace was filled with fashionable paintings by the leading artists of the period, with windows embellished with marble surrounds, and with carved fireplaces in gold leaf. But for all this, it remained an austere building: the residence of an enlightened warrior who was so mindful of the eternal value of culture that he invested huge sums in order to assemble the richest library in Italy. Urbino, a small city whose economy was not worth a fraction of that generated many other Italian cities by banking and industry, boasted the virtù and riches of its ruler through the palace.
Dmitry Gomberg: Akrak Vazha (The Shepherd’s Way)
"This is a story about Tusheti - mountain region in the Republic of Georgia. Tusheti lies near the Chechen border and it is culturally closer to Chechens than to Georgians.
The story is about shepherds who travel every summer to their ancestors’ land Tusheti and than return to spend the winter at the bottom of the mountain. Twice a year they travel with their sheep through the pass in the Caucasus which is 3,000 meters high.
I was staying and documenting life of the Shepherds in the Caucasus mountains for 5 years. These people have been cheese makers since before Christ. Their life is simple and harsh, but beautiful.”
Happy birthday, Cesare Borgia!
→ September 13th 1475
Mahsuri was the daughter of a couple who moved from their native Phuket to the island of Langkawi in search of a better life. She was the most beautiful in all of Langkawiand married the warrior Wan Darus. As was required of him, her husband had to go to war, leaving Mahsuri behind to fend for herself. It was during this time that Mahsuri befriended a young man named Deraman. The village chief’s wife was jealous of Mahsuri’s beauty. She spread a rumour that Mahsuri was unfaithful and was having an affair with Deraman in the absence of Wan Darus. Eventually the rumours grew strong enough that the villagers openly accused her of adultery. Mahsuri pleaded her innocence, but no one believed her.
Mahsuri was to be tied to a tree and stabbed to death but it didn’t work. After every execution attempt failed, Mahsuri told them to kill her with her family’s kris. When she was stabbed, white blood flowed from the wound, signifying her innocence. Some birds flew above her to cover her body. With her dying breath, Mahsuri cursed Langkawi to have seven generations of bad luck. The kingdom was soon taken over by Siam. The villagers at Padang Mat Sirat burned their own paddy fields rather than let them fall into the hands of the Siamese.
During her reign, Empress Elizabeth transformed a small summer palace into a splendid residence which eclipsed the fame of many European royal residences. The reign of Elizabeth I was a golden age of Russian Barocco. This elegant, exuberant style with elaborate ornamentation and dramatic lighting effects matched perfectly well the character of the empress. She was walking through the golden enfilade admiring her reflection in multiple mirrors. Today, this luxurious palace has become known as the Catherine Palace, named after Elizabeth’s mother, Empress Catherine I.
The World’s Oldest Crown
The crown was discovered in a remote cave in the Judaean Desert near the Dead Sea in 1961 among hundreds of other objects from the period. Known as the ‘Nahal Mishar Hoard’, more than 400 objects were discovered by Pessah Bar-Adon and his fellow Israeli archaeologists in the cave which became known as the ‘Cave of the Treasure’. The ancient relic, which dates back to the Copper Age between 4000–3300 B.C., is shaped like a thick ring and features vultures and doors protruding from the top. It is believed the crown played a part in burial ceremonies for people of importance at the time.
A heart locked with a key, and a secret message: the colored stones have initial letters that spell ‘REGARD’: ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond. This arrangement of stones was also popular in ‘regard’ rings. The pendant opens to reveal a panel of woven hair under glass.
ca.1840, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is another lovely illustration in grisaille, shades of grey, but highlighted with blues and gilding. Really lovely!
Image source: SCA 40. Creative Commons licensed by medievalfragments via Flickr.
San Martino - The Ossuary Chapel of San Martino Della Battaglia in Italy is the most ordered of all the bone houses on this list. Row upon row, column upon column of human remains rest in perfect order as if they were books in a macabre library. In all there are 2,619 deceased here with 1,274 skulls. [ source / edit ]
A quiet mosque in Palestine, 1926.Photograph by Jules Gervais Courtellemont, National Geographic Creative.
Temple of Isis, Egypt, early 20th century
Queen Elizabeth I Original Chromolithograph
The Grammar of Ornament, the global and historical design sourcebook, Owen Jones - 1910 (source)
Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Empress of India
Queen Victoria started a trend in engagement rings when she received a snake ring as her engagement ring. Snakes were seen as a symbol of eternal love. Her snake ring contained emeralds. During the period before the Victorian era (and even during) engagement rings often bore the wife-to-be’s birthstone in them and in Victoria’s case her birthstone was an emerald.
Victoria loved her snake engagement ring that was designed especially for her by her beloved Prince Albert and it is believed that she was wearing it when she was buried.
Mary Queen of Scots’ Watch: Large SKULL WATCH given by the Queen to Mary Seton. The forehead of the skull is engraved with a figure of death between a palace and a cottage, and a quotation in Latin meaning ‘pale death visits with impartial foot the cottages of the poor and the castles of the rich’ (Horace). The skull is held upside down and the jaw lifted to read the silver dial. The hour is struck on a bell. Made by Moyant A Blois (1570-90).