bucranium

Extremely rare, mint condition coin from Ionia, 5th Century BC

This electrum 1/12 stater is from an uncertain mint in Ionia. It is only the 5th recorded specimen and the finest known. It shows a Siren standing facing right, holding a tympanon (tambourine). The reverse shows a Bucranium with fillets hanging from each horn.

The mythical Sirens are best known to us from two ancient epics:  The Argonautica by Apollonios in which Jason and the Argonauts have to travel past them on their quest for the Golden Fleece, and Homer’s Odyssey, where they are portrayed as a pair of dangerous creatures that lure passing sailors to their deaths with their sweet music (Odyssey XII, 40). They are supposed to have inhabited an island with a particularly rocky shoreline onto which sailors would be drawn by their desire to hear the Sirens sing, leading to shipwreck. Speaking to Odysseus and warning him of the dangers he would encounter further into his journey, Queen Circe describes the Sirens as sitting in a meadow, with around them “a great heap of bones of mouldering men” (Odyssey XII, 45).

Although later depicted as women with wings, feathery tails and scaly bird-like feet, and eventually as mermaids, whose bodies were as seductive as their voices, depictions of the Sirens in early Greek art were as they appear on this coin, combining the body of a bird with the head of a woman, as can be seen on the ‘Siren Vase’ (photo), now in the British Museum, decorated in c. 480-470 BC and roughly contemporaneous with this coin.

Ionia (map) was an ancient region on the central coast of Anatolia (modern Izmir Province, Turkey).  It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements. Never a unified state, it was named after the Ionian tribe who, in the Archaic Period (600–480 BC), settled the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea. Ionian states were identified by tradition and by their use of Eastern Greek.

Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Ancient Greek Bucranium Amulet

An Ancient Greek lead bucranium, i.e. an artifact depicting an ox skull, from the 5th century BC has been discovered by Bulgarian archaeologists during excavations in the Black Sea resort town of Sozopol, the descendant of Ancient Greek colony Apollonia Pontica.

Bucrania were a common form of decoration in architecture as well as amulets in the form of an ox head. The usage of the ox head motif emerged in Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC, and was also adopted by the Ancient Thracians.

The bucranium amulet discovered in the Black Sea resort town of Sozopol, however, stands out because the ox’s head bears a solar symbol in the form of an eight-pointed star, Bulgaria’s National Museum of History has announced. Read more.

Cow Skull Craze

Today’s outfit was gifted to me from a dear friend who works at my favorite second hand store in California- the one and only, Knimble! Or should, I say the three and only, considering Knimble has a few locations. There’s one in Oakland, San Rafel, and the charming town of Cotati, located in the northern bay region of Sonoma County. Knimble is predominantly a woman’s consignment boutique that carries additional must-have goodies, such as organic cosmetic lines, eco-friendly perfumes, artisan house accessories, and handmade jewelry…just to name a few. For more information, check out any one of the fabulous social media outlets Knimble runs. Each one  sufficiently keeps their customers up to date with an aesthetically pleasing presentation!

http://knimble-cotati.tumblr.com/

http://www.knimble.com/oakland-shop/

http://knimble-san-rafael.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KnimbleClothing

http://www.knimble.com/

The majority of my west coast threads can be attributed to Knimble’s support, so this certainly isn’t the last time you’ll see me give them a shutout.

The shirt featured here is from an Australian brand called Evil Twin.

In the past, I’ve felt like this design as a top never looked quite right. So today, I decided to sport it as a dress with a 1950’s black slip underneath. I’m satisfied with the outcome of this experiment as opposed to my attempts with jeans and a bandeaux. This way, the zig-zag, shredded, beaded ends outline the upper half of my thighs and give them an eye-catching effect. KA-POW!

Even with the success that came about in the process of doctoring this outfit however, I know I wouldn’t have had any motivation to do so if it wasn’t for the centerpiece illustration. It’s a cow skull with feathers dangling from it’s horns. And why is that such an instant attraction? It got me thinking about how cow skulls (let alone animal skulls in general), seem to be universally popular in a timeless measure.

Hand carved cow skull in Bali, Indonesia.

Bucranium: (in classical architecture) an ornament, especially on a frieze, having the form of the skull of an ox.

Bucranium is also a latin fuse of the terms “bos”, (cow, bull, ox) and “cranium”, (skull, shield of the brain).

Perhaps the design on my shirt intrigued me with an unexplainable feeling of familiarity and appreciation, not due to a repetitive reputation throughout fashion, but rather from a genetically passed tradition that resonated deep within the roots of my DNA.

Ever since the dawn of time, people have been offering animal skulls as sacrificial gifts to present to their gods while conducting religious ceremonies. Greece in particular, encompasses a vast history with bucranium usage. 

Skulls would often be adorned with flowers and other wildlife in the form of garlands. Sometimes, skulls were kept as permanent additions to altars or places that marked spiritual significance. As architecture began to advance, bucraniums developed into a signature motif amongst many different areas of the world. They are namely carved within temples and tomb stones.

So in short, the timeline of cow skulls making headlines into modern day swag looks a little like this:

Religious sacrifice> adornment amongst shrines and spiritually designated environments> theme embraced through sacred architecture> personal decoration for home that bares special or neutral significance> art and beyond.

A Nomos struck in Metapontion, Lucania c. 330-290 BC

Head of Demeter facing slightly right, wearing grain ear wreath, triple-pendant earrings, and necklace / Barley ear of seven grains, leaf to right; bucranium (skull of an ox) above leaf, AΘ[A] below.

Metapontion (Metapontum) was an important city of Magna Graecia, situated on the gulf of Tarentum. The ruins of Metapontum are located in the frazione of Metaponto, in the commune of Bernalda, in the Province of Matera, Basilicata region, Italy.