Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Fe Del Mundo

[x], [x], [x], [x]

Fe Del Mundo (1911-2011) was a Filipina pediatrician, and the first woman to be admitted into Harvard Medical School. (They mistook her gender on the application form, but her credentials were so good they decided not to send her back. She may also have been the first Asian to attend.)

As a child, she’d already decided she wanted to be a doctor for the poor - three of her eight siblings died when they were kids. After her medical studies, she returned home to the Philippines, only to be plunged into the devastation of the Japanese military occupation of World War Two.

She volunteered to care for kids in the internment camp and set up a hospital there, earning her the nickname “Angel of Santo Tomas”.* She ended up heading a new children’s hospital during the war, that later evolved into a full-scale medical centre.

After the war, she opened the country’s first pediatric hospital, did pioneering research into infectious diseases like dengue fever, advocated family planning (controversial due to her Catholicism) and invented a bamboo incubator to be used in rural villages. And she went on working as a pediatrician well into her nineties.

So don’t mess with women in STEM. There’s every chance they will outlive you.

Wikipedia on Fe Del Mundo

*corrected by slouch-potato

Here’s an article by Lim Li Min from Foreign Policy:

Still in the Closet

LIfe isn’t easy for Malaysian gays. And it may actually be getting worse.

Sweaty young men gyrate on raised podiums to a thumping dance track by Kylie Minogue. Some are in blonde wigs, tight t-shirts, and sunglasses, shimmying in the dim purple light. One is in bondage gear, locked in an embrace with his male partner.

It could be a scene from any gay nightclub in the world. But this is a typical night at Marketplace in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of majority-Muslim Malaysia.

Over the past decade or so, Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has found a voice of its own, thanks to the growing prevalence of social media and the work of gay activists.

Over the past decade or so, Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has found a voice of its own, thanks to the growing prevalence of social media and the work of gay activists. But an embattled ruling political party, and reaction against the growing acceptance in many parts of the West of gay rights, has made Malaysia’s LGBT community a target for conservative Muslim politicians and their supporters.

One of the world’s longest-ruling coalitions, the Barisan Nasional (BN) or National Front, has governed Malaysia since independence in 1957 using a race-based political structure. The majority ethnic Malays are represented by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), while the Chinese, Indian and indigenous races have their own parties within the National Front.

But in 2008, for the first time in its history, the National Front took a significant beating during the general elections, and performed even more badly during the 2013 polls — although the party did retain power. The opposition, who campaigned on a platform of racial inclusiveness, gained ground due to growing disgust over rampant corruption and cronyism and the government’s undermining of civil institutions. The opposition’s gains were also aided by the emergence of urban, younger voters, independent news outlets, social media and civil society groups.

Effeminate and transvestite men had for centuries been tacitly accepted as part of Muslim communities in Malaysia, traditionally doing the make-up for brides at rural weddings, for example.

"Back then society just accepted fluid gender identities as part of the natural order," says Sharaad Kuttan, a presenter and producer for BFM, a business radio station in Malaysia.

But running parallel to that acceptance has been intolerance by more conservative elements. The gains made by the opposition, including the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), over the last two elections have driven the ruling party to try to appeal to the conservatives within its power base.

As a result, minorities, be they racial or sexual, have come under pressure.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has joined the attacks on the LGBT community. “LGBTs, pluralism, liberalism — all these ‘isms’ are against Islam and it is compulsory for us to fight these,” Najib said in July 2012, speaking to a 11,000-strong crowd of religious scholars. This May, he again said “human rights-ism” was against Islam, according to Bernama, the national news agency. Online media lit up with criticism over the comments, which he later retracted.

Some Islamist groups have added to the chorus. In November 2013, the activist Muslim group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia said the country had no room for LGBT rights or religious freedom, according to the Malay Mail, an independent online newspaper.

The verbal attacks by the political elite against Malaysia’s LGBT community may have stepped up in recent years, but the persecution has been going on for longer.

Nisha Ayub, a transgender woman, experienced such discrimination 14 years ago when she was 21. When religious officials asked to see her identity card, which read “male” and “Muslim,” she was brought to a jail and charged for impersonating a woman. Having long hair, breast implants, and wearing makeup “was against Islam,” she was told. Two days after her arrest, she was found guilty by a sharia court and imprisoned with male inmates for three months.

Prison wardens forced her to stand naked in front of other prisoners, subjected her to an anal probe and mocked her for having breasts.

"I was treated like a puppet," she says. Also during her detention, six cellmates made her perform oral sex. It was her first sexual experience.

Now a transgender activist with Justice for Sisters, Nisha says, “I feel for my trans community because [we] don’t feel protected under the law. We have no rights as citizens. People could kill me and nobody would want to know.”

The Ministry of Education, the Department of Islamic Development, and the Department of Special Affairs did not respond to email requests to be interviewed for this article.

Members of the LGBT community are frequently harassed. Police raid Marketplace from time to time; they claim they are there to root out illegal drugs, but patrons say they feel singled out among other clubs in the area.

For those who choose to go public with their sexuality, the backlash can be hostile — especially if they are Muslim.

For those who choose to go public with their sexuality, the backlash can be hostile — especially if they are Muslim. In 2010, Azwan Ismail, an ethnic Malay man, posted a video online entitled “I’m gay, I’m OK” — and created a media firestorm. It was modeled on the “It Gets Better Campaign,” aimed at helping LGBT youth in the United States cope with harassment. After receiving death threats, Azwan says he avoided going out alone. In response to the Malaysian campaign, YouTube user “faiz461” wrote: “we muslims still tolerate ur freedom of religion. dont push us too far.”

Minority rights in Malaysia have been steadily eroded over many years through the weakening of key institutions such as the judiciary, the electoral commission, and the mainstream media, which have been heavily influenced or even co-opted by the ruling parties.

That process began in earnest during the 1981-2003 leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. During his time he imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties, passed draconian security laws, and had then-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim arrested for sodomy in 1998.

"Malaysian institutions have just rotted away, not merely weakened. It’s like termites eating through timber. What remains is just a shell," says Jahabar Sadiq, chief executive officer and editor of the Malaysian Insider, an independent news website.

But even among other minority groups, homosexuals are a particularly easy target for politicians trying to score points with conservative voters. And that’s true not just of Malaysia: Nigeria, Uganda, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, among others, all have harsh punishments for homosexuality. “They are the weakest groups you can hit out on,” Jahabar says “Gays have no official standing in this country. No politician on either side will stand up for them.”

Bridget Welsh, associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University, says, “Fear is a well-known tactic that works in a Malaysian context, [especially when] put along racial or religious lines. The government is using this tactic to stay in power.”

UMNO is locked in a battle with PAS for recognition as the country’s number one Islamic group. In PAS’ heartland of Kelantan in the north, a ban on alcohol has pushed once-thriving bars and karaoke lounges underground. Swimming pools and supermarket checkout lines are segregated by gender. PAS has long advocated imposing strict Sharia-based laws nationwide if it comes to power. After neighboring Brunei recently adopted an Islam-based penal code, which will make gay sex punishable by stoning to death by 2015, PAS suggested similar legislation be considered for Kelantan.

But gays in Malaysia are also discriminated against under the parallel secular civil legal system, a legacy of British colonial legislation that criminalized sodomy and other homosexual acts. Sodomy between consenting adults is punishable by caning and up to 20 years in prison. It has rarely been enforced, except for political reasons, such as that of Anwar Ibrahim. As deputy prime minister, he had been seen as Mahathir’s anointed successor. But in 1998, Mahathir sacked him, and Anwar was subsequently charged with sodomy for which he served four years in prison. Anwar says these charges were trumped up because he posed a political challenge to Mahathir.

Malaysia’s racial and religious structure makes it difficult to be both overtly gay and Muslim. But those from other backgrounds have a somewhat easier time.

"I came out ages ago. It really depends on your religion, race, age, class and whether you’re urban or rural," says Jerome Kugan, 39, who sports a nose ring and is part Chinese and part Kadazan (an ethnic group from eastern Malaysia). He started a monthly musical event called "Rainbow Rojak" (a pun on a local fruit salad), at which raucous crowds pack into a hip café in downtown Kuala Lumpur. "You can have a good time in KL … if you don’t shove it in people’s faces," he says.

Social media has allowed members of the LGBT community to meet, flirt, date and provide counseling. Malaysia has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in Asia, according to Freedom House, and Malaysians are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of Facebook. Take a ride on any metro train in Kuala Lumpur, and you will see headscarf-clad Malay girls, workers in office attire, students in flip flops and jeans all glued to their smartphones. Gay men routinely use the Grindr mobile application to rendezvous with their friends, and LGBT activist groups flourish in cyberspace.

Many in Malaysia’s gay community are also emboldened by the enormous strides made in the West for LGBT rights

Many in Malaysia’s gay community are also emboldened by the enormous strides made in the West for LGBT rights. Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide in 17 countries and in some jurisdictions in in the U.S and Mexico.

But many Muslims see these developments as a threat to their society. In 2011, the education ministry in the conservative eastern state of Terengganu introduced camps to “re-educate” effeminate young men to be more masculine.

The boys were given religious counseling and physical education over a four-day period; later, the state education director was quoted as saying it was a character-building camp, and not aimed at correcting feminine characteristics.

Two years later, in March 2013, the state sponsored a play, Asmara Songsang (or “Abnormal Desires”), that follows the lives of three LGBT people. They have wild parties and convince a naïve Malay girl to take off her headscarf. Some later repent — and those who don’t are struck by lightning. The moral of the story is “to warn young people about the perils of being gay,” as Malaysia’s Director General of Information, Communication and Culture, Fuad Hassan put it in 2013.

Malaysian LGBT activists realize that they may not achieve the kind of progress made by their peers in the West.

"Same-sex marriage in the west becomes mistaken for our campaign here, but this approach does not work in Muslim-majority countries," says Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of Seksualiti Merdaka, an LGBT festival that was banned in 2011. "There’s a backlash [here]."

Ultimately, Pang says, most gays in Malaysia would be happy if Malaysian authorities stop harassing and vilifying them.

The fight to achieve the kind of acceptance gay people enjoy in the West may have to wait for another generation.

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Unknown artist, possibly of the Brazilian School

Black Artist Completing a Portrait of a White Female Aristocrat

Brazil (early 1700s)

Oil on canvas

Philadelphia private collection

[x], [x]

I was thrilled at first to see this image - a pre-modern Black woman artist, portrayed at work! But then I saw this:

Although this black artist appears to be wearing a dress, it is likely to be a male figure. As the scholar Sheldon Cheek explains, the artist wears an earring and a silver collar, both common articles worn by black male servants/slaves in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the collar traditionally indicating slave status. Women rarely, if ever, wore the silver collar. The artist also appears to be wearing a silver “shackle” on the arm.

Ugh. Pretty awful.

I think we should all be pretty critical of what’s written about this painting. Especially the part you’ve quoted above about how they have assigned the gender of the artist in the painting. I find it bizarre that something that is supposed to indicate enslaved status (not gender) somehow trumps this person wearing women’s clothing (that’s also a woman’s hat to the best of my knowledge).

The Americas, including Brazil, have a long tradition of transgender and third gender people. This is one of those images from the past that falls quite easily through the cracks because it is a collection of “exceptions”; it doesn’t fit nicely into categories that have been created and therefore, it’s more or less ignored.

If anyone’s hesitant to be critical, maybe you should also note that both the articles linked above make claims that slavery in Brazil was “less harsh” than other places. What???

How many of our assumptions are being projected onto this painting? Are the “contradictions” present in it a product of the painting itself, or is the problem with the categories we try to place it in? How many layers do we have to fight uphill through when we even look at this image? After all, History teaches us:

  • women weren’t artists
  • Black people weren’t artists
  • Black people were enslaved
  • Enslaved people didn’t do anything of worth
  • Transgender, genderqueer and third gender people didn’t exist before the 1960s
  • white people control how Black images are perceived, but not the other way around
  • gender must be immediately perceivable and fit into our categories of “male” and “female”

^ So this is the baggage we bring with us when we look at this image. We look at this painting, and we actively search for indicators that allow us to continue to believe the above assumptions.

If we take away those assumptions, if we try to move past them and see this portrait with new eyes, what are we left with? Whose History do we see here? Maybe it’s mine; maybe it’s yours.


Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez

Phạm Tuân

[x], [x]

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (1942-) was the first Black person AND the first Latino person in space.  

Phạm Tuân (1947-) was the first Asian person in space.

Why haven’t you heard of them before? Because they’re Communists. Tamayo Méndez is from Cuba and Phạm is from (North) Vietnam - an ace pilot in the Vietnam War, in fact. The USSR sent them up as cosmonauts in separate space missions in the year 1980.

Wikipedia on Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez

Wikipedia on Phạm Tuân


Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Tan Yunxian / 谈允贤


I noticed we haven’t featured a lot of medieval POC women in science, so here’s one. 

Tan Yunxian (1461–1554) was a doctor in Ming Dynasty China. She came from a family of physicians, specialised in gynecology, and lived to the age of 93.

She’s unusual in that she left behind a book, titled Sayings of A Woman Doctor / 女医杂言. It’s made up of 31 case studies - "habitual abortion, menstrual disorders, postpartum diseases, and abdominal lumps" - which she treated using traditional techniques such as moxibustion.

I couldn’t find any portraits of Tan Yunxian, but there’s currently a TV drama being made inspired by her life, called The Imperial Doctress / 女医·明妃传. I’m sure it’s going to be wildly inaccurate, but at least it’ll remind folks that women’s history in old China wasn’t just about bound feet.

Wikipedia on Tan Yunxian

Women doctors of Ancient China

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:


Art by J Bea Young


Lots of sites will tell you that Merit-Ptah (c. 2700 BCE) is the first woman we know by name in the sciences. She was the Chief Physician to the royal family in Ancient Egypt, and her name and picture appear on a tomb in the necropolis at Saqqara.

The truth is, she’s the first person we know by name in the sciences, male or female. The engineer, architect and physician Imhotep, called "the Father of Medicine", is dated as living from 2650 to 2600 BCE.

To be fair, the dates do seem to be under dispute. But there’s no reason not to go around telling people that the world’s first recorded doctor was probably an African woman.

(I wanted to find the original tomb art, but there are loads of different generic pictures associated with Merit-Ptah’s name on Google Images… can any friendly Egyptologists confirm which one’s legit?)

[mod note] As far as I know, there are no depictions of Merit-Ptah herself, but someone may be able to find an image of her tomb.

Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Kikunae Ikeda


Kikunae Ikeda / 池田 菊苗 (1864-1936) was a Japanese chemist and the inventor of MSG. (To all you haters: because Chinese restaurant syndrome has been debunked.)

He was also the first scientist to realise we have five basic tastes, not four. Before his time, Western science had accepted that our tongues have receptors for the following tastes:

1. sweetness

2. sourness

3. saltiness

4. bitterness.

 In 1909, he pointed out that there was a missing taste:

5. umami, or savouriness - i.e. the proteiny taste of meat or cheese or mushrooms or eggs.

This is kind of a big deal. It’s like pointing out that we have five fingers on each hand when Western science is only counting four.

So why the hell are we still teaching schoolkids that there are only four tastes, 105 years after that’s been proven wrong? Don’t we want them to understand why bacon is delicious????


Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Kamoya Kimeu

[x], [x]

Yet another Paleontologist of Color! And a really important one, too,

Kamoya Kimeu (c. 1940-) began life in Kenya as a peasant, but was hired as a labourer on the paleontology expeditions of Louis and Mary Leakey. As soon as he got over the taboo of digging up human remains (associated with witchcraft in his culture), he distinguished himself as a particular talent for discovering and identifying fossils.

He went on to become the right-hand man for Richard Leakey's expeditions, then took over operations, and was named the National Museums of Kenya's curator for all prehistoric sites in Kenya.

His discoveries include a nearly complete Homo habilis skeleton in 1959, as well as Turkana Boy, the most complete Homo erectus skeleton ever found, in 1984.Two fossil primates have been named after him: Kamoyapithecus hamiltoni and Cercopithecoides kimeui.

Sadly, almost all the credit for Kenyan paleoanthropology has gone to the British-born Leakey family. Let’s change that, shall we?

[x], [x]


aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Xu Xing / 徐星

Photographs by Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY


One of your fans, Cometkins, asked if you knew about any POC paleontologists.

The world’s most prolific discover of dinosaurs is a Chinese guy who’s been called a real-life Indiana Jones. 

He’s discovered at least 32 new species of dinosaurs. Also furthered loads of new theories about their connections with modern birds.

I also find him pretty damn cute.


Why doncha come and dust off my feathers, baby. :)

Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Katherine Johnson


Katherine Johnson (b. 1918) is a former NASA physicist, space scientist, and mathematician of African-American heritage.

She worked at Langley Research Centre from 1953 to 1986 as a “computer” -  i.e. someone who did the math to make sure the rockets would lift off OK.

NASA’s Researcher News says:

"We wrote our own textbook, because there was no other text about space," she says. "We just started from what we knew. We had to go back to geometry and figure all of this stuff out. Inasmuch as I was in at the beginning, I was one of those lucky people."

That luck came in large part because she was no stranger to geometry. It was only natural that she calculate the trajectory of Alan Shepherd’s 1961 trip into space, America’s first.

"The early trajectory was a parabola, and it was easy to predict where it would be at any point," Johnson says. "Early on, when they said they wanted the capsule to come down at a certain place, they were trying to compute when it should start. I said, ‘Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.’ That was my forte."

More flights became more complicated, with more variables involving place and rotation of Earth and the moon for orbiting. By the time John Glenn was to go up to orbit the Earth, NASA had gone to computers.

"You could do much more, much faster on computer," Johnson says. "But when they went to computers, they called over and said, ‘tell her to check and see if the computer trajectory they had calculated was correct.’ So I checked it and it was correct.”

That’s right - NASA didn’t trust their computers until they matched up with this lady’s work.

It’s worth noting, though, that there were other women, including Black women, in the computing team. Johnson was one of many people, of all races and sexes, working to make the space program succeed.

Science doesn’t just happen ‘cos of one or two geniuses. Like everything else, it takes a village.

Contemporary Art Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Surrounding David (2008)
National Museum of Singapore
From here

Titarubi is one of Indonesia’s most important feminist artists, and she’s regularly got in trouble with conservative authorities over her installations that interrogate representation of the human body.

When invited to create a work in the colonial building of the National Museum of Singapore, she built an 850-metre tall replica of Michelangelo’s David (twice as tall as the original) and covered it with pink brocade - the same material used in sarong kebaya, the traditional women’s costume of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

This was a monumental work of art that playfully feminised the male form and Asianized the European tradition. It had loads of visiting schoolkids in giggles over the colossal pink dong - but they loved it, all the same.

1800s Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Auguste Bartholdi

Watercolor representing the proposed statuary project, Egypt Bringing Light to Asia

France (1869)

Musée Bartholdi, Colmar.


After visiting Egypt in 1855, the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi was deeply inspired by the ancient monumental statues that he saw. In 1869, he visited  Isma’il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, with a proposal for a new statue of his own: a lighthouse in the shape of an ancient Egyptian female fellah or peasant, holding a torch at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal in Port Said.

The project never materialised, so he recycled the plans for the Statue of Liberty instead.


Auguste Bartholdi

Maquettes for Liberty Bringing Light to the World

France (1870 and 1875)



Fiction Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Fish Eats Lion: New Singapore Speculative Fiction
ed. by Jason Erik Lundberg

Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore
ed. by Amanda Lee and Ng Yi-Sheng

LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction #1

by Joyce Chng

The Promise Bird
by Zhang Yueran

I just wanted to drop a line from Singapore and say that there’s loads of speculative fiction here, being written and published in the English language here. (Not all of it is written by us - that last book, The Promise Bird, is a translation of a fantasy epic written by Zhang Yueran from China, but she set it in medieval Southeast Asia during the age of Chinese maritime exploration.)

Naturally, almost all of these books feature POC protagonists, because, um, we’re in Asia.

I’d like to say “all”, but there have sadly been Singapore authors who’ve aimed to get a more “international” readership”by writing fantasy novels starring white kids. 


Archibald and the Blue Blood Conspiracy
by Shermay Loh


The Seeds of Time
by Shamini Flint

This drives me nuts, ‘cos we’re inundated with loads of white-centric UK, American and Australian lit already. But please don’t send my friend Shamini hate mail - I really do like The Seeds of Time, and pretty much all of her other stuff (for adults and kids) is centred on Asian characters in a big way.

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Unknown artist

Portrait of Francis Williams

England/Jamaica (c. 1745)

Oil on canvas

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

[x], [x]

Francis Williams (1700-1771), the earliest Black writer recorded in the British Empire. He reportedly studied in London and went on to teach reading, writing, Latin and mathematics in his native Jamaica. You can read some of his verses here.


Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Alhazen / Ibn al-Haytham

Here’s an Iraqi scientist who was one of the pioneers of modern science:

From Wikipedia:

Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (Arabic: أبو علي، الحسن بن الحسن بن الهيثم‎), frequently referred to as Ibn al-Haytham (Arabic: ابن الهيثم, Latinized as Alhazen or Alhacen; c. 965 – c. 1040) was an Arab scientist, polymath, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who made significant contributions to the principles of optics, astronomy, mathematics, visual perception and the scientific method.

He has been described as the father of modern optics, experimental physics and scientific methodology and could also claim to be the first theoretical physicist. In medieval Europe, he was nicknamed Ptolemaeus Secundus (“Ptolemy the Second”) or simply called “The Physicist”. He is also sometimes called al-Basri (Arabic: البصري) after Basra, his birthplace.

According to one version of his biography, al-Haytham, confident about the practical application of his mathematical knowledge, assumed he could regulate the floods of the Nile. Having been ordered to do so by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth ruler of the Fatimid caliphate, he quickly realised its impossibility. Fearing for his life, he feigned madness and was placed under house arrest. Once Al-Hakim had died, he was able to prove that he was not mad and for the rest of his life made money copying texts while writing mathematical works and teaching.

A POC mad scientist! I demand fan fic immediately. :D

Sources for the pics above:

Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham as shown on the obverse of the 1982 Iraqi 10 dinar note

Cover page for Latin translation of Alhazen’s The Book of Optics
Europe (1522)

Frontispiece of Johannes Hevelius, Selenographia.
Depictions of Alhasen [sic], Ibn al-Haytham, on the left, holding a geometrical diagram and symbolizing knowledge through reason and Galileo Galilei on the right, holding a telescope and symbolizing knowledge through the senses.
Poland (1647)


1800s Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Friedrich Carl Albert Schreuel
Raden Saleh
Netherlands (c. 1840)

Raden Saleh
Lion Hunt / Memburu Singa
Netherlands? Germany? (1840)
Indonesia di Galeri Nasional, Jakarta.
[x, x]

Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1811 - April 23, 1880) was a Javanese Indonesian painter who travelled to the Netherlands to study art. There, he became renowned as both a portrait and a landscape painter, working in several European courts. He was particularly noted for his paintings of wild animal fights.

I’ve posted the portrait of Raden Saleh here before, but I hadn’t seen his paintings. Thanks for your submission!

Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Nur Jahan and Asmat Begam


Pictured above is the famous Mughal Empress Nur Jahan / نور جهاں‎ (1577-1645). She’s said to be the inventor of attar of roses – the essential oil of the flower; a key ingredient in rose perfume.

The popular story goes that she discovered the substance when she observed a fragrant, oily film in the waters the Royal Baths after rose petals had been left in it overnight. This version of events comes to us from the Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci (1639–1717).

 However, the Emperor himself, Jahangir (1605-1627), records that it was his mother-in-law, a perfumer, who made the discovery:

According to the emperor, once Asmat Begam, the mother of his wife Nur Jahan, was making rose water when she noticed “a thick mass on the surface of pots where hot rose water was poured from jugs”. Asmat collected the mass and finally realised that it was so rich “that a single drop of it rubbed into the palm filled the air with an enchanting scent of tons of red roses blooming simultaneously”. Jahangir was charmed by this delightful fragrance. “There is no other scent that could compare to it. It lifts the spirit and refreshes the soul. As a token of my gratitude for this discovery, I presented the discoverer with a pearl necklace”.


Maybe both stories are just legends meant to aggrandize the royal family. But other documents tell of how upper-class Mughal women were obsessed with coming up with new formulas for perfumes – i.e. it’s arguable that they were applied chemists.


[mod note] Okay so I love this


Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Elizabeth Gomani

[x] [x]

Another Paleontologist of Color for Cometkins!

Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu is a paleontologist, trained at the University of Dallas. She also serves as the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife & Culture in Malawi. 

Her work includes description of the miniature crocodilian Malawisuchus and the sauropods Malawisaurus and Karongasaurus.

Karongasaurus and Malawisuchus

Illustration by Karen Carr (1999)


1800s Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Juan Luna


Italy, Rome (1879)

National Museum of the Philippines


Juan Luna y Novicio (1857 – 1899) was one of the first Filipino artists to become recognised internationally. He lived in Europe from 1877 to 1894, creating historical paintings and sculptures, even becoming a friend of the King of Spain.

In 1884, he won First Prize at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid for his painting of Roman gladiators. Coincidentally, it was another Filipino painter, Félix Resurrección Hidalgo (1855-1933), who won the Second Prize! 

Their success was hailed by Filipino reformists as a sign that despite being seen as a “barbarian race”, they could paint better than the Spanish who colonised them.

Juan Luna


Italy, Rome (1884)

Oil on poplar

National Museum of the Philippines


Félix Resurrección Hidalgo

The Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace / Las virgenes Cristianas expuestas al populacho

Spain (1884)

Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines