early indian

Iconometry and Proportions of Gautama Buddha, 1974.

Buddhist artistic traditions of the Himalayas, Tibet, and Central Asia are following established guidelines for determining body proportions in figurative art. This is called Iconometry.

The theory of Iconometry is based on taking measurements of the various parts of the human body - head, torso, limbs, fingers - and comparing those measurements to create guidelines for standardized codes for use in art. The measurements can vary greatly according to the different body types, such as Buddha figures, or peaceful and wrathful Deities. The earliest code of Iconometric measurements used in Himalayan art came from an Indian cultural aesthete, though there are many Indian textual sources which helped to create an early pan-Indian figurative aesthetic. This was naturally adopted by the Buddhists and eventually made its way to the Himalayas and Central Asia.

Some early Buddhist textual examples for the study of Iconometric proportions include the Manjushri Mulakalpa, Samvarodaya, Krishna Yamari, and Kalachakra Tantras. In practice, Iconometry functions as a grid of horizontal and vertical lines with accompanying numerical notations. They are used for both marking the measurements of the figure and also for arranging the posture of a figure within a composition. These grids guide all different variations: seated or standing postures, placement of hands and arms, even the direction of the head. In depicting Deity figures there is the added complexity of multiple heads, arms, and legs.

This Day in True Crime

26 December: the largest mass execution in United States history

On 26 December 1862, following the Dakota War during the same year, 38 Sioux prisoners were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota. In early December, 303 Sioux Indians were convicted on charges of murder and rape. Some of their trials lasted five minutes or less, and the Sioux Indians were not educated about the proceedings nor represented by defense attorneys. Abraham Lincoln, who was in office at the time, reviewed the trials personally to ensure that only men who had committed rape and murder were convicted and not men who had gone to war against the United States, which resulted in his commuting of the sentences of 264 men. He was later quoted as saying, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.”

psychiclianna  asked:

What was life as a Chinese sailor like in the era of Zheng He?

Let me start by saying I wish I could give you a better answer on this one.  I’ve spent the last week trying to find good sources on this, and I really haven’t found many at all.  So, I’m afraid that I’m going to end up giving you a very basic answer with lots of caveats - I know quite a bit about Greek and Roman navies in the ancient world, and some about European sailing in the medieval world, but Chinese naval history isn’t something I’ve ever studied.

That said, I was able to find enough information to make some logical assumptions based on my knowledge of other eras and ships in general.

1. Navigation seemed to be incredibly important to Zheng He, particularly on the Treasure Voyages.  His astrologers complied a huge number of charts, and they also relied on older sources, such as Arab, Indian, and early Chinese records.  

It’s important to remember that ancient navigation was a lot of guesswork.  Back in the 1400s, there weren’t reliable maps of most of the world - and accurate charts (the nautical version of a map, which includes navigational aids and depth of water, which is hugely important) were even harder to come by.  So, although Zheng He used local pilots* where he could, he probably had to compile most of the information he needed on the fly, since his fleet was sailing far from home and had very few places to get the required information.  So, anyone involved in navigation probably was a very valued member of the crew, particularly given the unknown waters they were sailing into.

* Pilots are experienced mariners who know a harbor/channel/river/body of water extremely well.  They know the tides, the currents, the depths and what navigational aids to use to get safely into and out of port.  We still use them today, because no captain can know every port of call well enough.  

2.  The ships probably didn’t leave sight of land very often.  This map of their route shows the fleet sticking to the coastline, since that was the safest and best way to navigate in days before accurate charts, GPS, and (perhaps most importantly) good ways to store/preserve food.  So, they probably made landfall quite often, although your average sailor was probably stuck on board the ship.  Officers would sometimes go ashore to buy/requisition provisions, but your average sailor could just stare at the shore and go nowhere.  Remember, the ships were probably anchored out, so it wasn’t like you could sneak off without taking a long swim.  (Nevermind the consequences of returning).

3.  Historical accounts indicate that the treasure ships were huge, way bigger than their later western counterparts.  Historians argue about whether the size of the ships is accurate or not, but for the sake of fiction, I’d certainly assume they were.  That means the ships were 400-600 feet in length and capable of carrying 500-1000 passengers.  Some sources claim that there were up to 2800 people on board each ship.  The Wikipedia article on this is actually really good, and has its sources well documented.  (This is not my era of expertise, but the sources look academic and professional).

What does this mean for the sailors?  It means these ships were cramped.  Remember that they didn’t have running water (aside from seawater), and that in those days, sailors slept on hammocks in communal areas.  Even if the crew was only 500 people, that’s a lot of people to put on a ship that is also carrying cargo, weaponry, and ambassadors/important people who aren’t about to share their special cabins with lowly sailors.  So, sleeping areas were cramped, with men potentially sharing the same sleeping space.  We call that “hot racking” nowadays, but it pretty much means that when Person A is on watch, Person B is sleeping in their hammock, and vice versa.  Privacy just didn’t happen.  Hundreds of crew (all male, because ships were not equal opportunity employers in those days) likely slept in the same area.  They probably ate there, as well; only officers rated a nice room to eat in.  Sailors might be able to eat on deck sometimes, but that was probably more rare than they liked.

4.  Zheng He’s voyages focused on “showing the flag” and exploration.  That sounds fun and cool, but for your average sailor, it’s a pain in the ass.  When you’re there to show off your country’s might, you have to have a clean and impressive looking ship.  So, that means that there was an enormous amount of time spent scrubbing decks, painting anything that didn’t move, re-splicing lines, and generally making the ship look wonderful.  Ships in the Age of Sail and earlier didn’t exactly treat their crews well, and sailors wouldn’t have a lot of free time to begin with.  But in this case, nearly everything they had would have been poured into making the ship look awesome - because that ship could be a foreign country’s first impression of China, and that first impression had to be a good one.

This ship might look big, but it gets a lot smaller once you’re sharing it with 500 of your closest friends.

5.  This is pure supposition from what I know about the Age of Sail and ancient navies, but I would wager that the food was terrible.  Granted, a fleet that stays closer to the coast can replenish more often than ships sailing across the ocean, but scraping up food for ~500 from every place you drop in is hard.  You’re looking at eating anything that won’t spoil quickly, or perhaps things that have because there’s nothing else.  Remember that there’s no refrigeration, and salt is pretty much the only way of preserving anything for longer than a few days.

6.  The quality of sailors’ lives greatly depended upon their captain and officers, particularly the latter.  Sadly enough, this is still true on pretty much any ship: whilst underway, the captain might as well be god.  The captain can determine when/if sailors eat, sleep, and if they can leave the ship at all.  There’s already no privacy, nowhere of your “own” to sneak off to, but the captain can make everyone miserable if he’s in the mood to play tyrant.  The opposite is also true, of course.  A compassionate and charismatic captain can do a lot to make a crew’s life better, even if it’s just by treating people kindly and bringing them together in service of a common goal.  

Remember that the further back in history you go, the fewer “rights” there were in human rights.  Not all sailors volunteered (look up British impressment, if you want an eye-opener on that front), and once they were on board, they might as well have been in prison.  Discipline was harsh, and there was nowhere else to go.  That’s particularly true for sailors on long voyages like the Treasure Voyages; they were stopping in foreign nations where they didn’t speak the language and would stand out like sore thumbs.  They also probably didn’t get paid until the end of the voyage, either, which meant - even if they did escape - there was no money to get by on.  So, desertion is rare, even under very harsh treatment.  So, a tyrannical captain could really make everyone miserable with very little effort, while a good one - who held the standard without being cruel, and give his crew what little comforts he could - made all the difference.

I hope this helps!  Again, this isn’t my area of expertise by a long shot, and a lot of my extrapolation comes from knowledge of the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail.  There don’t seem to be a huge number of primary sources concerning the Treasure Voyages, so maybe that story of a later Emperor burning the ships and the records are true.


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“In the early 1600’s Indians on Roanoke Island marveled At the sudden appearance of a milk white doe. The sudden creature was the most beautiful they had ever seen. Sometimes she stood alone, looking out into the sea; sometimes she grazed in the melon patches around the deserted fort. She alluded every arrow, every snare and ruse. So the Indians organized a hunt, and the best archers came from far and wide. Among them was the young Wanchese who had been to England and returned with a silver arrow from the English queen, who had told him it would kill even the bearer of a charmed life. The hunt began, and the white doe bounded away over the sandhills as the hunters’ arrows wizzed around her ears. At last she reached the beach. Wanchese appeared, facing her, took aim, and shot the silver arrow through her heart. At the moment she died, the white doe looked into her slayer’s eyes and whispered, "Virginia Dare.” “


100 HORSE BREEDS 38. Bashkir Curly Horse

The origins of the Curly horse, also called Bashkir Curlies, American Bashkir Curlies, and North American Curly Horses, is highly debated in the Curly community, but research is mostly still in progress. Disagreements of the Curly horse’s history result in confusion of what the breed is, and what it should be called. ABCR members prefer “Bashkir Curly” while CSI and ICHO members lean towards “North American Curly”. The addition or removal of ‘Bashkir’ to the breed name is highly debated. A 1990 study indicated that it is unlikely that the Bashkir horse, which also has a curly coat, is an ancestor.

It is said that Curly horses were documented in Asian artwork as early as 161 AD. Charles Darwin documented curly horses in South America in the early 19th century and the early Sioux Indians regarded curly horses as sacred mounts for chiefs and medicine men. Native American artwork shows Curlies carrying warriors in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Another theory is that the origin of the breed is Iberian. It has been noted that foals of cross bred horses have the curly hair. This suggests that the curly gene is dominant.

There are multiple theories for how the American Curly developed. The Curly horse was first documented in Eureka, Nevada in the early 20th century by rancher John Damele and his sons. While Mustangs were a common sight, curly coated horses were unusual. Years later, the Dameles managed to catch one, broke it to ride and sold it, thus starting their relationship with the breed. In 1932, an unusually harsh winter hit the area, and come spring the only horses that could be found were the Curlies. This evidence of hardiness was noted by the Damele family, and they decided they should include more of these horses in their herd. After another harsh winter in 1951/52, the Dameles started to get serious about breeding these horses. They went out and found their foundation stallion, a two year old chestnut in one of the mustang herds. They called him Copper D. The Dameles didn’t care much for keeping the breed 'pure’, and wanting to improve their horses, added some other blood to their herd. Among the stallions introduced were a Morgan, Ruby Red King AMHR 26101 and an Arabian, Nevada Red AHR 18125. These two stallions created many offspring for the Dameles, and are in hundreds of Curly horses’ pedigrees today.

The Curlies are known for their calm, intelligent and friendly personality. They show an easily trainable temperament. They are also known for having a tough constitution and great stamina. Most people have found that the curlies enjoy being around people. The curlies are typically not flighty. They tend to do more reasoning than most breeds. They are very reliable and have a great work ethic.

The unique gene that gives Curlies their curly hair (which is most obvious with their winter coat) can be expressed minimally (horse exhibits curly hair inside ears, at fetlocks, and a kinky mane and tail), maximally (horse exhibits curl all over body, has dreadlocked mane, and has curly eyelashes and guard hairs), and “extreme” (very tight, extreme curls, but when they shed out for summer can shed entirely bald) or any variation in between. The coat in the summer shows a slight wave in it, though not as extreme as the winter curls. But because the curly trait can be carried heterozygously, some purebred Curlies exhibit no curl at all.

Curlies have split manes and are not braided or clipped when shown. Curlies are most commonly chestnut colored, but can be found in every color from standard bays, blacks, and greys, to appaloosa markings; from pinto patterns to dilute colors such as buckskin, roan, grulla, and cremello.

The care for the curly hair is simple with most people choosing to not comb the mane because the hair will lose its curliness. The manes are often trimmed to keep them from matting. The tails can be combed. Some people choose to collect the hair that is shed from the mane and tails in the spring. The hair is then donated to the ICHO Fiber Guild. They use the hair for spinning. All of the proceeds go to ICHO Curly Research Efforts.