Monday, December 10, 2018

Rivers of Mercury and Immortality


Folk Belief: Immortality

Throughout ancient Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di’s massive tomb, thousands of lifelike clay statues of soldiers stand guard. They even once held real weapons to protect their leader in the afterlife. When the statues were first made in 208 BC, they would have been painted to look even more realistic.

Aside from the clay army, Qin's grave was filled with toxic pools of liquid mercury. During his time, the Chinese practiced alchemy, and mercury was thought to be the key to immortality. However, the huge amount of this poisonous substance has made it nearly impossible for modern archaeologists to properly excavate the site. Many sections still haven’t been explored.

In Mexico, Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent was built to house the body of their emperor when he died. In 2016, archaeologists discovered that there was a pool of liquid mercury underneath the grave site. Some historians speculate that this may have some religious significance. Whether or not these ancient peoples intended it for that purpose, liquid mercury has become a very effective way to ensure that their dead leaders can rest in peace without being disturbed.


Rivers of Mercury



Ancient writings say the emperor created an entire underground kingdom and palace, complete with a ceiling mimicking the night sky, set with pearls as stars. Pits full of terracotta concubines have never been discovered, though experts predict they exist somewhere in the complex.

And Qin Shi Huang's tomb is also thought to be encircled with rivers of liquid mercury, which the ancient Chinese believed could bestow immortality.

Some archaeologists believe this may be the cause of his death. He was taking mercury pills because he wanted to live forever. Unfortunately, it killed him by the age of 39.

That moat of mercury also presents another reason why archaeologists are loath to explore the tomb just yet — doing so would likely be very dangerous, according to soil samples around the tomb, which indicate extremely high levels of mercury contamination.

In the end, scientists and historians must always weigh their desire to know more with the damage such inquiry would cause.

Archaeology, ultimately, is a destructive science,they report. Materials have to be destroyed in order to learn about them.


 Opulent Burial



When he died, Qin Shi Huang was buried in the most opulent tomb complex ever constructed in China, a sprawling, city-size collection of underground caverns containing everything the emperor would need for the afterlife. The ancient Chinese, along with many cultures including ancient Egyptians, believed that items and even people buried with a person could be taken with him to the afterlife.

But instead of burying his armies, concubines, administrators and servants with him, Qin came up with an alternative: clay reproductions.


More:

Beliefs About Illness
Top Immortals



Monday, October 29, 2018

Global Beadwork

About Beads


They are often small, decorative objects formed in a variety of shapes and sizes. Materials include stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood and pearls with small holes for threading or stringing. 

Curators at the Museum of International Folk Art call glass beads "the ultimate migrants.  Where they start out is seldom where they end up. " 

Considering how as they travel around the world, lending themselves to regional interpretation (and use), they continue to be a source of knowledge, cultural expression, and highly prized items of adornment.

Beadwork Adorns the World is a special museum exhibit that runs through February 3,2019 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The focus is about what happens to the beads when they do arrive at their final destination- Africa, Borneo, Burma, Mexico, etc.

What do people do with them? How do they make them into items of clothing, jewelry, and more. The results often reveal important information about the makers and users. 


Want to know more? Click here






Thursday, October 4, 2018

5th Mystery Writers in Mausoleum

Special Thanks To Talented Writers/Readers:

John Lynch, Linda Saldana, David Gonzalez, 
Linda Lau, and Rachel Mansfield. 



Santa Rosa Memorial Park hosted the fifth Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum evening Thursday, October 25. The free event took place in the park's 102+year-old Odd Fellows mausoleum that is still without electricity.
                                                                                                      
The juried selection of local mystery and suspense writers and playwrights made the evening spectacular. From flash fiction to short stories to plays to folk legends to dramatic theatrical readings, it was a spell-binding event.


“This is a great way to showcase some of the area’s local talent,” said Tim Maloney, General Manager, Santa Rosa Memorial Park. The mausoleum, he added, was be the perfect setting for spine tingling suspense.

This event is sponsored by FolkHeart Press, a Sonoma County boutique publisher of folklore-related material. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Mausoleum after Dark


We Are Seeking Submissions For

5th MYSTERY WRITERS IN THE MAUSOLEUM


7 pm-8:30 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

Themes include: Suspense, Who-Dun-It, Supernatural (vampires, goblins, ghosts, etc.)
Sonoma County writers are invited to submit short stories (including flash and micro-fiction), folktales (including ghost stories), or creative non-fiction for our annual reading. Designed for all ages, this October event, sponsored by FolkHeart Press and hosted by Santa Rosa Memorial Park  is held in the park’s Alaskan Marble Odd Fellows  Mausoleum located at 1900 Franklin Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA.

Guidelines:
  • Work  should take up to but NO MORE than 8 minutes to read aloud .
  • Email submission as word document or pdf by September 28, 2018 to Folk@FolkHeartPress.com .
  • Selected writers will be notified by October 5, 2018.
  • If selected, please be prepared to provide author jpeg photo and brief bio (including website or Facebook link) for promotional purposes.
Lighting will be provided by kerosene lamp and/or LED lanterns.


More:
Santa Rosa Memorial Park hosted the first Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum in 2013. The event, sponsored by FolkHeart Press, takes place  in the park’s then 105-year old mausoleum. Prior collaborations with Redwood Writers, Sisters in Crime NorCal, and other Sonoma County literary groups, this event has gained a loyal and well versed following.

Bright luminaries line the entrance and lighting inside the Alaskan marbled room creates a “mystic yet mysterious” feel. 

The readers are diverse in their story telling, ranging from reading of novel, short stories, original dirges and  dramatic readings of such classic works as Frankenstein and Tell Tale Heart.


As Santa Rosa Memorial Park's General Manager Timothy Mahoney noted,  this was a great way to showcase some of Sonoma County’s literary talent, and give a real Halloween spook to our fellow Sonoma County residents.










Thursday, June 21, 2018

Buddha's Hand Food Lore

Here's to Buddha's Hand


    
For any fruit to be named “The Buddha’s Hand,” I would imagine that it must live up to its name! Although this citric fruit is composed mostly of rind (little if any juice), it has multiple uses that make it very practical and yet beautiful and intricate at the same time.

With origins that trace back to Northeastern China, the Buddha’s Hand is a yellow citrus fruit that grows from a smaller bonsai type tree. In China today it symbolizes happiness and long life, because its name, “fo-shou”, has those meanings when written with other characters. In Japan it is called bushukan which i means “fingered fruit”. There it is a popular New Year gift that bestows good fortune on a household.

Historically, this fruit evolved from the original cinturon that was originally grown in the lower Himalayas. It was only until the late 19th century that the fruit was exposed to places such as California.

When fully grown the shape of the fruit looks as though it has elongated fingers. The Buddha’s Hand has an extremely thick rind, rarely containing any juice or seeds in contrast to most citrus fruits. One of its main qualities is its beautiful scent. Used to decorate tables, its scent can be smelled from one room to the next and has been used to perfume clothing.

One of the most important uses for the Buddha’s Hand is for religious purposes. The fruit is often given as an offering in Buddhist temples. It’s important to give the Buddha the fruit when its fingers (elongated branches of the rind) are closed together in the center. It is believed in Japanese tradition that the Buddha appreciates when the fruit is in this form because it resembles the act of prayer.

Buddha’s Hand Recipes

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Medieval Mead



Celebratory Drink 


Mead has lost its popularity over the years to the sweet taste of wine.  When people think of mead they often think of medieval men and women drinking down a rough alcoholic beverage. We picture vikings, knights and kings toasting to success and victory.  What many people don't know is that mead is actually very sweet and easy to make.

Mead dates back so far that it is hard to pin point the exact origin of the ancient drink.  Historians believe that it was made accidentally discovered by the people of early civilizations in Ancient India and is the very first known alcoholic beverage.  Mead is a very basic drink containing only fermented honey and water.  It is the only alcoholic beverage that can be created naturally without the help of man.  It is possible that man's first experience with intoxication came from honey in an old tree trunk that was diluted by rain water and fermented by wild yeasts.

Not only is mead considered to be the nectar of the gods, but it is also the drink of love and fertility.  The phrase “honeymoon” comes from the consumption of mead at wedding celebrations of the Norse (Scandinavians).  They would drink mead at wedding celebrations and if the beverage ran out before the last full cycle of the moon the host would have bad luck from then on.

Although we picture the rich and poor consuming mead in Medieval Europe, it was actually a drink only for the wealthy.  Mead is made easily after the honey is harvested, but honey during the medieval period was rare and hard to yield.  This is the main reason why mead has grown out of popularity.  It is much easier and cheaper to plant rows and rows of grapes for wine, than to plant hundreds of beehives.

During the Renaissance, mead was often saved for special occasions as it was a celebratory drink.  Today it’s available at almost all  Renaissance Faire’s.  

Related Information

List of 2018 RenaisanceFaires  http://www.therenlist.com/fairs


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

American Naturalist


John Muir


One of America’s most noted naturalists was born in April 1838. A native of Scotland, John Muir went on to become an influential advocate for preservation of this country’s open spaces.

Raised on a Wisconsin farm when his parents immigrated to the United States, Muir was familiar with the Midwest which was then considered the wild west. 

He went to seek his fortune as a mechanic and inventor during the industrial explosion that was sweeping the country. Unfortunately, he had an accident that left him temporarily blinded and changed the course of his life.

He decided to take a 1,000-mile walking tour of the American West. Locations included the Sierra Nevada. Admittedly encouraged by transcendental thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, he believed that that wild nature offered a “window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator.”

Muir was committed to keeping the Sierra Nevada undeveloped and, by 1892, he and other early preservationists formed the Sierra Club. Their goal was to maintain the importance of wilderness preservation so that others could be replenished by its splendor on both spiritual and physical levels.

During his lifetime Muir published over 300 articles and 12 books. His credits include being known as the “Father of the National Parks.” He was also a geologist botanist, and writer.

He often called the Sierra Nevada his home, even after his 1880 marriage at the age of 40 to Louisa Strentzel, daughter of a prominent physician and horticulturist in Martinez, California. He died in 1914 and was the first person honored with a California commemorative day - John Muir Day - which was signed into law in 1988.

Parks and recreation areas named after him include:
Mount Muir
Muir's Peak
Camp Muir (Mount Kilimanjoro)
Muir Beach

Related Information:



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Beliefs About Illness




What We Used To Believe


Every now and then we like to explore ‘old world’ remedies for illness. These folkways are fascinating reminders of how we all strive to understand our bodies. There were very real life-threatening concerns about threats to our wellbeing. This was all part of our efforts to cure what ailed us.
So here are a few interesting tidbits:

How Night Air Spread Diseases like Black Death

Back in the Middle ages, it was believed that bad air came from the decay of organic matter. People believed this foulness was more free-floating at night, especially for those who lived near swampy areas. The cure was to stay indoors at night with doors and windows tightly shut.

Epilepsy as Divine Visitation

Divine visits from the gods and goddesses of early Greece were believed to be the cause of epilepsy. The Greeks referred to this sacred disease as being neither a good or bad one. The quality of the visit was dependent upon the symptoms. For example, if during a seizure one screamed like a horse, the visit was thought to be from Poseidon who ruled the sea, earthquakes and horses.

Mental Illness and Witchcraft

Witch or wizard curses were the cause of mental illness, according to Medieval folkways. The most common medieval treatment was exorcism which was supposed to rid the person of the curse and/or demonic possession. During the Renaissance, burning the body to free the imprisoned soul was a common treatment.
Today we can laugh at these beliefs, right?
One can only imagine how future generations will look upon some of our medical lore. Perhaps they will wonder how it was we thought an apple a day, glass of wine nightly, or sleep tablets could help us set the world right.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two Broadway Ladies

The Ethels

Among Broadways' Best honored this month


Ethel Merman and Ethel Waters are among the talented and tenacious women of Broadway. They sang, acted, and danced their way to the stage that memorialized them. Their abilities earned them well-deserved claim and paved the way for many professional female performers who have come after them.

Both Ethels belong to the panethon of distinguished women of the stage to be celebrated in Transcendence Theatre Company's upcoming The Ladies of Broadway. This musical revue runs March 17 through March 25, 2018 in Northern California's San Rafael and Santa Rosa.

Merman, often referred to as "the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage" began her career as a torch singer in clubs that headlined celebrities like Jimmy Durante. 

With her powerful voice and pitch she made her debut on Broadway in 1930. She clinched the audition for the role of San Francisco cafe singer Kate Fothergill in the George and Ira Gerswhin musical Crazy Girl. That's when she made  "I Got Rhythm" one of her signature songs.  She also appeared in a series of short Paramount musical films. 

Still active on Broadway, she won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in Call Me Madam. She also starred in the 1953 screen adaptation and won the Golden Glove Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

In 1959 she starred in Broadway's Gypsy which had an impressive 702-performance run. 

Waters' full-bodied voice was also legendary. The first woman - the first African American woman - to sing the W.C. Handy classic "St. Louis Blues" on the stage, she rapidly rose to success. At 30 she was already on Broadway.

In 1927 she appeared in the all-black revue Africana and three years later the musical revival of Blackbirds. Her first departure all-black cast shows was Irving Berlins' 1933 musical As Thousands Cheer

Considered to be one of the great blues singers of her day, Waters also performed and recorded with jazz greats Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. Several composers wrote songs especially for her, and her name became synonymous with "Stormy Weather."

Women like these two are at the heart of The Ladies of Broadway which presents seven of today's accomplished female artists:

= Lindsay Chambers (Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Lysistrate Jones)
= Jennifer DiNoia (Wicked, National Tour of Momma Mia)
= Amy Hillner Larsen (National Tour of Hairspray, National Tour of Queen of the Desert)
= Leslie McDonel (Hairspray, American Idiot)
= Sydney Morton (Motown the Musical, Memphis, Evita, American Psycho)
= Kristin Piro (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, An American in Paris, Rocky, Catch Me If You Can)
= Laurie Wells (Mamma Mia, National Tour of An American in Paris)

These legends-in-the-making will perform iconic show tunes and dances made memorable by the two Ethels and many other women trailblazers who helped to shape Broadway for performers and audiences alike. Included are Bernadette Peters, Sutton Foster, and Audra McDonald.

The Ladies of Broadway reflects the high caliber of work that Transcendence Theatre is known for. According to  Director Eric Jackson, this revue also "incorporates stories alongside stellar singing and dancing" that continue to inspire audiences of all ages.

Transcendence Theatre Company is an award-winning, nonprofit arts organization comprised of artists with professional experience from Broadway, film and television. Established in 2011, it is based in Sonoma County. 

Headliners have included Sutton Foster and Megan Hilty, and featured performers have appeared in numerous Broadway productions such as The Book of Mormon, Mamma Mia, Les Misérables, Chicago, La Cage Aux Follies, and Follies.

Details:


Marin Center’s Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael: 7:30 p.m. Saturday - March 17 and 2 p.m. Sunday - March 18, 2018. 
Tickets:  www.LadiesOfBroadway.com  or 415-473-6800.

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa:  2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday - March 24 and 2 p.m. Sunday - March 25, 2018. 
Tickets: www.LadiesOfBroadway.com707-546-3600  Box Office daily 12 to 6 p.m. at 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa.

General tickets: $29 - $89. VIP tickets include pre-show festivities, premium California wines and artisan hors d’oeuvres: $129 - $139.

For more information about Transcendence Theatre Company visit www.BestNightEver.org











Thursday, March 8, 2018

Admirable Suffragists


Two Women Who Misbehaved

Many women are to be commended for their work as suffragists. These brave, future thinking people took to the streets to march for the right to vote. Because of them we have the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately, that right was not fully extended to all American women until the 1960’s when, at last, African American women could vote.While there are many we owe a debt of gratitude to, here is a brief look at two of these folk heroines.

Mary Church Terrell

The daughter of former slaves, Terrell was the first African-American women to study at Oberlin College in Ohio. She earned a college degree in 1884 and went on to earn a master’s degree. Afterwards, she became the first African-American woman appointed to a school board. 

She was challenged by the fact that most national women’s organizations excluded African-American women. At a speech before the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1904, she said, “My sisters of the dominant race, stand up not only for the oppressed sex, but also for the oppressed race!”

Her credits include becoming a charter member of the NAACP and opposing Jim Crow laws by suing a Washington restaurant for refusing to serve African-American customers.

Elizabeth Freeman

Freeman was no stranger to law enforcement encounters that led to many arrests. She was adept at turning those unsavory experiences into media opportunities.  She was creative in her strategies as she worked with suffrage groups across the country.

Her strategies included speaking at public events, such as movie houses. Well-thought out tactics also included driving a wagon through Ohio. Stopping in every town along the way, she passed out literature and spoke to those who gathered. In some instances, she attracted listeners by dressing as a gypsy.

To learn more about these and other women, click here


Related Information

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WORLD CUP OF FOLKLORE


Folk Songs, Folk Music, Folk Dance 

If you are in a group of folklore singers, musicians and/or dancers who want to be seen by other similar groups in the world around the world, then you’ll want to know about the World Cup of Folklore. Held May 24-28 this year in Jesolo Venice, this four-day event is a marathon of activity.

Competition Categories 


  • Folklore songs groups, authentic folklore (choirs and ensembles)
  • Folklore songs groups, modern arrangement of folklore music; - (choirs and ensembles)
  • Folklore dances groups, authentic folklore; (folklore dance groups, ensembles)
  • Folklore dances groups; modern choreography (folklore dance groups, ensembles)
  • Folklore mix ensembles - Authentic performances; (live vocal, instrumental and dance)
  • Folklore mix ensembles - Processed performances; (live vocal, instrumental and dance)
This event was designed to create unity between people and cultures. According to the primary event organizer, Sopravista Internaitonal Festivals, the aim is to foster a sense of tolerance and respect for those how are different.

The organization also sponsors two other festivals in Italy: VII International Spring Festival at Garda Lake and the International Festival for Folklore and Contemporary arts (Le spiagge d'Italia).

Other organizers include Cultural Association (Cultura in movimento), the Municipality of Jesolo and the European Association of Folklore Festivals.

The three-member jury will award First Place Awards and Diplomas for each category as well as gold, silver and bronze medals. The best performers will also receive production of a video clip. Award winners also receive a copy of their performances which have been taped for broadcast on television throughout Europe.

In order to show off your program which won’t exceed 10 minutes in length, register now. For more details, click here

Related Information






Friday, February 16, 2018

Sea Shanties



Songs Aboard Ships

Folk songs reflect the lives of those singing them. Sea shanties were popular among sailors from the 18th to the 20th century. This style of work song could be heard in American merchant vessels prior to the Civil War.

These tunes could be heard while men adjusted the rig or raised the anchor. They were also sung when other tasks required the men to work together in rhythm, such as rowing. 
About these team songs, experts say their rhythms were precise and often used call-and-response elements. African Americans who sang while loading these ships, stoking steamboat furnaces and other tasks are credited with influencing these work songs that were belted out by all.


Freedom To Sing

In some instances, the lyrics, which were easily adapted, allowing sailors and slaves alike to sing about what they might not otherwise be able to talk about.

The range of music also included elements of minstrel music, popular marches and regional folk songs. Traditionally, they are grouped into three primary types: short haul shanties for shorter trips; halyard shanties for heavier work and capstan shanties for long, repetitive tasks.

Examples
One classic sea shanty example was a popular American folk song that had Irish roots.  “Poor Paddy Works on the Railway" while being a song about the railroad was adapted to be a work tune about working on a boat on Erie.

Other memorable sea shanties included “Blow the Man Down” and “Drunken Sailor”.

Related Information

Sample of Sea Shanties

Friday, February 9, 2018

Healing Charms and Medicine


The Folklore of Healing Rituals


If you are interested in learning about the ways healing charms and medicine are being study, then you’ll want to know about this upcoming folklore event:


Interdisciplinary Approaches to the 
Study of Healing Charms and Medicine
Harvard University, April 6-8, 2018

 According to the conference sponsors, charms are understood as a ritual means of addressing situations of sickness, stress, and anxiety by way of a combination of special language and special actions.  They are also universal across human societies. For example, early Latin manuscripts and various other vernacular languages contain several examples of healing charms that blur the lines between magic and science. The link between them has not been severed. It has been noted that today, people routinely consult specialists in naturopathy, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine alongside, or in preference to, modern, scientific medicine.

Not only does the study of healing charms and other medical beliefs and practices have the potential to yield insight into traditional and historical systems of knowledge, but such study often has major implications for modern medicine. 

Charms can lead to the development of new medication and procedures, as when researchers from the University of Nottingham discovered that a charm from the 9th century Anglo Saxon manuscript “Bald’s Leechbook” proved effective in eradicating strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Pharmaceutical companies spend significant amount of money on researching the pharmocopiae of indigenous cultures across the planet in order to develop new drugs.

Because of the broad nature of this topic, this conference aims to bring together researchers whose work spans a broad range of areas, time periods, and disciplinary approaches. 

This event brings together the study of medicine, science, and religion, thereby bridging gaps between disciplines and uncovering connections between the traditions of various cultures.

Presentation themes will range from verbal magic in the Middle Ages, quarantines as magic, and women and childbirth.

Featured Speakers

Dr. Jacqueline Borsje, University of Amsterdam. She is a specialist in the study of Religion and in Celtic Studies and is currently leading a project called "The power of words in medieval Ireland."

Professor Richard Kieckheffer of Northwestern University, is one of the most prominent scholars of magic and religion in the late Middle Ages. He has a special interest in church architecture, and the history of witchcraft and magic. 

To learn more about the conference schedule click here. 

 Related Information