Robe a la Française

England (c. 1740)

A perfect example of the robe à la française at mid-century, this hand-painted silk dress displays the opulence, Orientalism, and insatiable baroque excess of the time. Layers build on layers; flowers terrace out from the two-dimensional on the textile, to silk flowers, to nets laden with trapped flowers and floss. The silhouette is perfectly of the era: panniers dilate the hips; a narrow waist is achieved by the corset, which further pushes up and supports the bust. A deep décolletage is rendered more or less modest with insertions of bits of cloth, and the sleeves are finished with layers of engageants that are generally just basted in for easy detachment and washing and are thereby useful in keeping the valued dress clean.

This painted silk gown is The Costume Institute’s earliest example of the eighteenth-century fashion for exoticism and chinoiserie. The gown’s bold, somewhat fantastical floral pattern, with its use of dense areas of saturated color, is not, however, typical of the more commonly seen Chinese export silks, with their delicate and naturalistic designs.

Technical analyses of The Costume Institute’s examples of Chinese export textiles by the Museum’s Objects Conservation Laboratories revealed pigments bound in animal glue with underpainted designs in lead white outlined in silver and black paint. In contrast, the analysis of this gown disclosed the presence of a plant gum binder but no underpaint or silver and black painted outlines. Four pigments were used to create the palette—Prussian blue, gamboge, and red and brown lake—suggesting that the gown is most likely of European manufacture.

As early as the late eighteenth century, factories had been established in England, France, Holland, and Germany to replicate Chinese painted silks. Huguenots had begun to produce silks in Germany with the support of the Prussian governor, and it is likely that this textile is of Dutch or German origin. In addition, evidence suggests that the gown itself was constructed in England and thus is an exceedingly vivid surviving example of the intersecting transits of culture and commerce that permeated the period.

-The Metropolitan Museum of Art, [source 1]; [source 2]

Receipt for a Dead Sheep

This Ur III administrative text records in Sumerian cuneiform a receipt for a dead sheep. In as well documented a period as the Third Dynasty of Ur, it is no surprise that everything had to be recorded! The tablet also bears the impression of a cylinder seal, which would have conferred legitimacy on the clay document, much like a signature would today. (Source)

Umma (?), Ur III, c. 2041 BCE.

Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“In the early 1600s, the King of Sweden declared that copper, along with silver, would serve as money.  He did this because he owned lots of copper mines and thought that this policy would increase the public’s demand for copper—and also its price, making him much wealthier.  Because silver was about 100 times as valuable as copper, massive copper coins had to be minted, including one that weighed 43 pounds. This rendered large-scale transactions in Sweden virtually impossible without a cart and horse.  It also explains why Sweden was the first European country to use paper money.”

Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University and author of WRONG: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn from Them, Richard S. Grossman is sharing seven little-known facts about economic disasters all this week on Tumblr.

Image credit: King Charles IX of Sweden painted by unknown artist. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“After the Great Depression and the postwar period, capitalism was in its seductive phase. Capitalism knew there were rival suitors and it came with flowers and chocolates like health care programmes and unemployment insurance, minimum wages, and all kinds of goodies precisely because it was part of this seductive dance to keep people from sliding into the hands of the socialists or, God forbid, the communists. Neoliberalism is really just capitalism in its boorish phase, capitalism on the couch in an undershirt saying, ‘what are you going to do, leave me?’”

- Naomi Klein

anonymous asked:

Is asoiaf's depiction of minor lord's living in poverty realistic? For instance, Godric Borrel can't afford to repair or heat his castle, has his meals cooked and served by his own family, and even his liege lord can't afford to equip his own sons as knights.

Absolutely, that’s one of the more realistic things about ASOIAF. Here’s the crucial factor to consider about the economics of the nobility - in feudalism, rents are generally fixed at traditional rates. Which means that the nobility are more exposed than most to economic shifts, especially shifts in prices. 

One of the reasons why we see peasant revolts in the 14th century following the Black Death (which greatly decreased the labor supply and thus raised wages, at a time when noble incomes were declining because their rent-paying tenants were dying or running away) and then again after the Great Price Revolution (which raised the price of everything, and thus was a major real income cut for people on fixed incomes) is that these events hammered the economic position of the nobility, the nobility responded by trying to violently restore the balance of power (both by trying to freeze wages and worker mobility, which often meant attempts at enforcing or re-establishing serfdom), and the peasantry responded with violence in return. 

Now, the greater nobles were better able to adapt to changing economic circumstances - they had more land and more liquid capital, so they could convert more easily to pasturage and thus get into the lucrative cloth trade, they could invest in new commercial and industrial ventures, etc. 

But the lower nobles didn’t. Hence the figure of the impoverished nobleman, who becomes ubiquitous from Don Quixote to Jane Austen to the freaking Bluths. 

Shell Inlay of a Woman from Sumer

This shell inlay from the Early Dynastic period depicts a woman playing the flute. Interestingly, she also wears a cylinder seal around her neck. Cylinder seals, which would have been rolled onto clay tablets to function like signatures, often have a narrow whole through the center where a string could have been laced through to tie the item around one’s neck. Throughout Mesopotamian history, both men and women used seals. (Source)

Early Dynastic, c. 2600-2500 BCE.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The history of money and its “devine” metamorphosis in the 20th century

Professor Jack Weatherford, a renowned cultural anthropologist:

“In the 20th century, we saw money turn rapidly from paper into plastic and then into mere electronic blips generated in computers, transferred over telephone lines and through computer terminals, and without any corporal existence outside of the electronic domain. Throughout its history, money has become steadily more abstract. By moving at the speed of light, electronic money has become the most powerful financial, political and social force in the world. Money has become even more like God: totally abstract and without corporeal body.”

Weatherford, Jack. 1997. The History of Money. New York: Crown Publishers. (p. 248)

In this book Weatherford identifies three great mutations in the story of money. The first began with the invention of coins in the Anatolian kingdom of Lydia 3000 years ago, sparking a monetary revolution that underpinned classical Greek and Roman civilizations. Next, family-owned, credit-giving banks of Renaissance Italy ushered in the modern world capitalist system, which swept away feudalism and abetted the expansion of European hegemony to the Americas. In the third major transition, predicts Weatherford, the current age of paper money will give way to an era of cybermoney, or electronic cash, in which transactions are conducted via the Internet and by other forms of electronic transfer. Along the way, the book traces the rise of banking systems and other financial institutions and shows how national governments are playing a dominant role in managing the money supply.

Ask Kostis Kornetis about the Greek Referendum

Kostis Kornetis, assistant professor at NYU, returned to Greece last week to witness the political situation surrounding the referendum. In the referendum, held yesterday, voters were asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a question about the country’s creditors’ conditions for further bailout aid. Greeks ended up rejecting the bailout terms with an overwhelming ‘no’ vote.

Today, July 6, we will be accepting questions directed toward author Kostis Kornetis for him to answer about the results of the July 5 referendum. Please use the Ask Me Anything button on our Tumblr page to pose questions to Kornetis, or simply use this link.

Answers to your questions will be posted to the Berghahn Tumblr later this week.

Modern Impression of Ancient Babylonian Seal

The seal used to make this modern impression on clay comes from the Kassite period in Babylonia, during which many major works of literature and scholarship in Akkadian were canonised. Written in Akkadian cuneiform, the inscription records a prayer to the goddess Ninsun and names the owner of the seal as “Uballissu, son of Warad-Ea, treasurer, servant of Kurigalzu,” which probably refers to the Kassite king Kurigalzu II (r. 1332-1308 BC). On the right side of the impression is a vertical row of insects. (Source)

Kassite, c. 1330-1310 BC.

British Museum

It’s true. Bill Clinton deregulated Wall Street, a republican backed effort, which led eventually to the collapse of our economy affecting millions of Americans especially POC, believed in the welfare queen hype of the Reagan times- his welfare reform put many POC deeper into poverty, and lastly his crime bill destroyed the lives of millions of blacks and Latinos. Bernie Sanders spoke forcefully against the crime bill and even accurately predicted its effects. When democrats are controlled by money they don’t work for you. Wake up America both parties are controlled by money. The Clintons are a cause of the new Jim Crow.

There is no better image to demonstrate the complete destruction of the German economy post-WWI than this image.  These children are not playing with blocks, but huge stacks of money.  The vindictive nature of the Treaty or Versailles and France’s constant instance for reparations created an impossible situation for the young Weimar Republic.  In an attempt to pay off its war debt, more money was printed, leading to unprecedented inflation.  Anyone who had their funds in cash instead of physical property was ruined.  The money that these children are playing with was virtually worthless, although it probably constituted a family’s life savings.  The harsh economic realities and bitterness that this created directly contributed to the rise of fascism in Germany.

anonymous asked:

This is kind of a follow up to the Aegon reforms question and I apologize if it is a bit long or boring. Do we have any information (or do you have any guesses) on how towns, cities and municipalities overall are originated and administered? Burghers were generally a separate class from manoral peasant IIRC and had unique privileges as well (though I may be wrong). Most municipalities seem to predate the Targs though so it seems a little unclear how is overseeing here. Additionally do you think

status hierarchy varies at all by region? I seem to recall from the Defiance of Duskendale section of WOIAF that Lord Darklyn was partially inspired by the fact that the Dornish lords retained their ability to autonomously administer cities (which is odd because they apparently don’t have any!). I completely understand if you want to correct me somewhere or if you think GRRM has not really developed this part of the worldbuilding.

One correction: Darklyn was primarily inspired by the Essosi paradigm (where you have full city-states), not the Dornish paradigm: “It was Lord Denys’s desire to win a charter for Duskendale that would give it more autonomy from the crown, much as had been done for Dorne many years before, that began the trouble. This did not seem to him such a vast demand; such charters were common across the narrow sea, as Lady Serala most certainly had told him.” (WOIAF, Aerys II)

The answer is we don’t know much. We know that city charters exist, we know they involve autonomy from the crown on some matters, notably “port fees and tariffs,” and that they require royal approval in the Crownlands and used to as well in the Riverlands when they were independent.

One thing we can say is that the most expansive form of rights, where cities were completely self-governing communes answerable to no one but the king, doesn’t exist in Westeros. White Harbor is ruled by the Manderlys, Oldtown by the Hightowers, Lannisport by the Lannisters, Gulltown by the Graftons.

From the little we know, city charters seem to be largely focused on taxation and other economic regulations - city charters allow cities to set their own port fees and tariff rates to some extent, allowing them to more effectively compete for trade. I say to some extent, because we know that Tywin and Aerys II fought over tariff rates and port fees at Oldtown, Lannisport, and King’s Landing, so it’s clearly not full autonomy. 

Based on historical parallels and the fact that city charters are expected to lead to expansion, my guess is that the main things that Westerosi charters involve are: 

  • the right to hold markets and fairs and regulate them.
  • the right to establish public warehouses where goods can be stored.
  • the staple right, which means foreign merchants have to unload their goods in your town and exhibit them for sale there for a given period before moving on. 
  • some sort of autonomy or revenue-sharing on port fees, tariffs, and other taxes on commerce. 

Old Assyrian Seal in Quartzite

This seal impression from this Old Assyrian cylinder seal depicts a goddess leading a worshipper to another deity who is seated. The seal comes from a trading colony in the region of Anatolia. The Old Assyrian period is best known for such colonies, established primarily for the purpose of exchanging textiles, tin, gold, and silver. (Source 1, 2)

Old Assyrian, c. 2000-1700 BCE.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Recovered Economic History – “Everyone But an Idiot Knows That The Lower Classes Must Be Kept Poor, or They Will Never Be Industrious” | Yasha Levine

[Despite] what you might have learned, the transition to a capitalistic society did not happen naturally or smoothly. See, English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in shitty, dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of landowning capitalists. And for good reason, too. Using Adam Smith’s own estimates of factory wages being paid at the time in Scotland, a factory-peasant would have to toil for more than three days to buy a pair of commercially produced shoes. Or they could make their own traditional brogues using their own leather in a matter of hours, and spend the rest of the time getting wasted on ale. It’s really not much of a choice, is it?

But in order for capitalism to work, capitalists needed a pool of cheap, surplus labor. So what to do? Call in the National Guard!

Faced with a peasantry that didn’t feel like playing the role of slave, philosophers, economists, politicians, moralists and leading business figures began advocating for government action. Over time, they enacted a series of laws and measures designed to push peasants out of the old and into the new by destroying their traditional means of self-support.

“The brutal acts associated with the process of stripping the majority of the people of the means of producing for themselves might seem far removed from the laissez-faire reputation of classical political economy,” writes [economic historian, Michael] Perelman [in his book, The Invention of Capitalism]. “In reality, the dispossession of the majority of small-scale producers and the construction of laissez-faire are closely connected, so much so that Marx, or at least his translators, labeled this expropriation of the masses as ‘primitive accumulation.’“

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(h/t azspot)