Flora Fauna Faces Font Friday

From the Public Domain Review

This 17th-century alphabet seems to show grotesque vegetation, animals and even humans in its forms, reminiscent of DeepDream imaging.

An Alphabet of Organic Type (ca.1650)


A series of stunning prints – titled Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum – designed by the Polish goldsmith Jan Christian Bierpfaff (1600-ca.1690) and engraved by fellow-countryman Jeremias Falck (1610–1677). According to BibliOdyssey blog, where we first learnt of the images, Bierpfaff worked as an apprentice at the Mackensen family of metalworkers in Cracow, a group “who introduced the Dutch auricular (‘shell or ear-like’) style of ornament into the Polish gold and silver workshops”. We see the influence of this auricular style in Bierpfaff’s letterforms but also the unmistakable baroque stylings of the grotesque. The result is wonderfully surreal, the writhing forms hovering somewhere between the monstrous and floral.

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Kintsugi: The Art of Broken Pieces


Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.

The video above was filmed at Tokyobike in London which recently had a Kintsugi workshop. If you’d like to try the technique yourself, Humade offers gold and silver DIY kintsugi kits. See also: When Mending Becomes an Art. (via Kottke and The Kid Should See This)




Video about the Kintsugi process

Medieval Bling: Skeletons Encrusted in Jewels and Gold

St. Albertus skull

From hyperallergic.com:

p.12-3 St Valerius in Weyarn_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Valerius in Weyarn (all images copyright Paul Koudounaries and courtesy Thames & Hudson)

In a forthcoming book titled Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, Los Angeles photographer Paul Koudounaris brings before his lens bejeweled skeletons long-lost in the catacombs of Rome. The remains were first unearthed in 1578, when they were disbursed throughout Catholic christendom as saintly relics. But according to Koudounaris, who also penned a 2011 volume on the subject, The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses, the true identities of the skeletons remains a mystery.

The relics, all opulent finery bleating against the stiff repose of death, reprise and damn the famous “almost-instinct” expressed in the closing lines of Philip Larkin’s “An Arundel Tomb”: if love won’t survive us, at least the gaudy ornaments of material piety might. Hope everyone had a terrific Fashion Week!

p.34 copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Felix, Sursee, Switzerland

p.47 hand of St Valentin_copyright Paul Koudounaris

Hand of St. Valentin

p.48-9 St Benedictus_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Benedictus

p.50 Deodatus skull relic_copyright  Paul Koudounaris

Deodatus skull relic

p.56 relic of St Deodatus in Rheinau_copyrightPaul Koudounaris

Relic of St. Deodatus in Rheinau

p.61 St Luciana_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Luciana

p.70-1 skull of St Getreu in Ursberg_copyright Paul Koudounaris

Skull of St. Getreu in Ursberg

p.78-9 St Friedrich at the Benedictine abbey in Melk_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Friedrich at the Benedictine abbey in Melk

p.84 St Valentinus in Waldsassen_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Valentinus in Waldsassen

p.88-9 In Stams, Austria_copyright Paul Koudounaris

In Stams, Austria

p.147 St Munditia grasps a flask_copyright Paul Koudounaris

St. Munditia grasps a flask

p.22 St Albertus_copyright  Paul Koudounaris

St. Albertus

Heavenly Bodies Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs by Paul Koudounaris will be released on October 8, 2013 by Thames & Hudson.

A pristine ‘temple of the dead’ has been uncovered in Peru

Earthenware Wari bottle

By George Dvorsky from Gizmodo.com:

A pristine ‘temple of the dead’ has been uncovered in Peru

A massive royal Wari tomb has been unearthed in Peru — and it’s full of mummies and artifacts made of silver and gold. Remarkably, the 1,200 year-old site has never been touched by looters, which is a rarity as far as these things go.

Above image: A pair of heavy gold-and-silver ear ornaments featuring a winged supernatural being. Credit: National Geographic/Daniel Giannoni.

The tomb was discovered in northern Peru by Polish archaeologist Milosz Giersz and his team many months ago. But to avoid looting, they kept it a total secret. Digging quietly for months, they unearthed 63 individuals, including three Wari queens. The archaeologists suspect that some of them were human sacrifices.

A pristine ‘temple of the dead’ has been uncovered in Peru

Photo: Daniel Giannoni.

The tomb, which dates back to sometime between 700 and 1,000 A.D., contains over a thousand artifacts, including sophisticated gold and silver jewelry, bronze axes, and gold tools.

A pristine ‘temple of the dead’ has been uncovered in Peru

Photo: Milosz Giersz

The find will undoubtedly help archaeologists and anthropologists understand the life of the Wari, a vibrant civilization that lived in the Andes centuries before the rise of the Incan Empire.
National Geographic describes this “overlooked” empire:

The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca, whose achievements were extensively documented by their Spanish conquerors. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world’s great cities. At its zenith, Huari boasted a population conservatively estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.

Just how the Wari forged this empire, whether by conquest or persuasion, is a long-standing archaeological mystery. The sheer sophistication of Wari artwork has long attracted looters, who have ransacked the remains of imperial palaces and shrines. Unable to stop the destruction of vital archaeological information, researchers were left with many more questions than answers.

[Full article]

Minuscule yet functional gold skeleton expected to sell for $150-250,000 at Sotheby’s

Miniature gold skeleton with silver gilt coffin

Miniature gold skeleton with silver gilt coffin

By  from The Awl:

In 1896, Israel Rouchomovsky, in Odessa, completed a 3-1/2 inch gold skeleton with 167 parts. It had taken five long years to create a fully articulated rendering, and he took particular delight in the lower jaw, which opened and shut. In Rouchomovsky’s memoirs, he wrote that he was truly satisfied as he made the final engraving, “Mozyr [18]92 Odessa [18]96” on the right splint-bone, and his name on the left, but “it was at that point that I realized that this ‘deceased’ deserved a beautiful sarcophagus.” He spent another five years on a velvet-lined silver coffin, illustrating the removable cover with the footsteps of the Angel of Death, surrounded by infants alternately laughing and crying. The base was a contemplation on the course of life, with war at one end and the arts at the other.

This Monday, April 29th, in Manhattan, Sotheby’s will auction off the gold skeleton and the silver-gilt sarcophagus. The auction house estimates that the silversmith’s decade-long endeavor, which has resided in hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt’s Judaica collection, will bring in $150-250,000.

[Full article]