Giolo, the Painted Prince

Prince Giolo, Son of ye King of Moangis or Gilolo: lying under the Equator in the Long[itude] of 152 Deg[rees] 30 Min[utes], a fruitful Island abounding with rich spices and other valuable Commodities. This famous Painted Prince is the just Wonder of ye Age. His whole Body (except Face, Hands and Feet) is curiously and […]

Ildar Khanov’s All Religions Temple in Kazan

This are images of a building called the All Religions Temple, built by Ildar Khanov, “a Tatar artist and faith healer.” It’s located in the Russian city of Kazan. Once the seat of the 15th century Kazan Khanate, a successor state to the post-Mongol Golden Horde, Kazan has always been a crossroads between Islam and […]

Image of the Week 1: Bathing Machine

I love this late Victorian postcard of a woman leaving a ‘bathing machine,’ a now-forgotten wagon-like vehicle that was wheeled a discrete distance out to sea so that ladies of quality could swim without showing a scandalous amount of flesh to the general public. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. I’m also […]

Vanished Civilization 1: Carthage

My people shall, by my command, exploreThe ports and creeks of ev’ry winding shore…– Queen Dido in John Dryden’s translation of The Aeneid, Bk. I First in a series of once-weekly posts on my favorite vanished civilizations, I present THE CARTHAGINIAN EMPIRE. To understand Carthage, one has first to understand the Phoenicians, who were originally […]

Europeans as ‘Other’

They eat with their fingers instead of with chopsticks such as we use. They show their feelings without any self-control. They cannot understand the meaning of written characters. – From Charles R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan, 1549-1650 (London, 1951). Chinese and Japanese representations of sixteenth century Europeans have always fascinated me. We’re used […]

First post – The History of Four-Footed Beasts

Greetings friends and strangers.This is the first post in a blog, RES OBSCURA, designed to serve as a record of the strange things I come across in the course of my research as a graduate student in early modern (sixteenth through eighteenth century) history.  Early modern visual culture and natural history are special interests of […]