Although ‘things’ in Brazil are not ‘back to normal’ by a long shot; my Brazilian family are on the way to recovery. They are in a good position to think more positively about our visit in a few months time. So it is with this in mind that I reblog a previous post. Also I remain in debt to to family and friends in Rio who remain on hand my daughter and son-in-law who are gathering strength to enjoy the Carnival and Shrove Tuesday albeit in the confines of crutches and local parties
While we in UK get excited about a pancake or two!
Today is the 1st day of the 3rd month of the year. The last two months have passed in grieving heap! This is sad because I had such hopes; we all did.
As the New Year came and went in heavy rain and storms,we took the opportunity a little later, as the clouds cleared to send some lanterns and good wishes to the night. They were silent wishes; I cannot remember mine but imagine they were connected to good health and prosperity; not just me and my family but for all beings. I hope that you have received your part of the bargain; for me I do feel a little let down.
Nonetheless; I have never been one to pout for long … I reiterate any wishes made that night and add
That I am truly grateful for the good fortune I received over and above anything I expected; my friends, family and strangers have been like the good Samaritan they have pulled out all stops … offered emotional, financial and practical treasures that we can never repay
These two little books have been on my desk for a day or two. I kept meaning to shelve them but they seemed to say ‘look at me’ with a theatrical air. I soon discovered the illustrators were set designers of some renown.
The woodcutter’s dog (in the French called Le Chien de Brisque) by Charles Nodier ; beautifully Illustrated by Claud Lovat Fraser is a delight.
Claud Lovat Fraser or Lovat Claud (1890-1921) a theatre designer, woodcut artist, illustrator and draughtsman was a self-taught artist, attending Westminster School of Art with Sickert for only one year. He began his career as artist and designer in 1911. His first published works of designs and decorations appeared in Flying Fame (1913). He is best known for his theatrical designs, settings and costumes for As You Like It and The Beggar’s Opera, produced at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1920.
The other Mr Marionette told by Katherine Colville and illustrated by Albert Rutherston is also a joy to look at.
Albert Daniel Rutherston (1881–1953) was a British artist, brother of William Rothenstein and pupil of Fred Brown. He painted figures and landscape, designed posters and stage sets; particularly for the plays of Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw and illustrated books by Shakespeare and Maeterlinck.
Cynips quercusfolii is a small black gall wasp, is noted for her unusual nest making. In the spring she punctures a home for her eggs in the soft young buds of the oak tree. The tree naturally protects itself against the ‘invasion’ and forms little nutlike growths around the wasp holes. These oak galls are collected before the wasps hatch and used to make ink of the most intense black. It was used throughout the medieval times and was probably learned from the Arabs who used it for ink, dying clothes and mascara.
The ink contains tannin and is highly astringent and found in many other plants but it is not in such a concentrated form. Tea leaves can also be used to make ink.
Last week I wrote about Zelia Nuttall in relation to my colour theme and Alphabe Thursday; but I have read a little more about her and she seems to worthy of some recognition.
Zelia Maria Magdalena Nuttall, specialised in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican manuscripts and the pre-Aztec culture in Mexico. She was an American archaeologist and anthropologist, born at San Francisco in 1857. She lived and was educated in Europe between 1865 and 1876; during this time she attended the Bedford College for Women in London. She married Alphonse Louis Pinant,the anthropologist and linguist and had a daughter Nadine. Soon after she separated from her husband. It was about this time when she was appointed to the post of “Honorary Assistant in Mexican Archaeology” at the Peabody Museum, Harvard, a position she held for 47 years.
Nuttall published her first paper before moving to Dresden in 1886. From here, she took an expedition to Mexico where she worked in the Mexico National Museum. Now divorced from her husband; She was sent to Russia by the University Museum to gather books, exhibits and information. It is not clear how she came across the Zapotecan Manuscript (now called the Codex Nuttall) but she was able to trace the Mixtec codex and write the introduction for its first facsimile publication in 1903 (see below) Soon after this she settled in Coyoacan, Mexico where she died in 1933.
I would like to see the original codex, Zelia’s introduction describes quite a different picture that the book portrays.
‘ In the year 1519 the Spanish conquistador Fernando Cortes sent to the Emperor Charles V ‘dos libros delos que tienen los yndios’ or two hand painted books from the native cultures of Middle America. One of them may have been the Mixtec manuscript now known as the Codex Nuttall.
Originating in what is now the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, the Codex Nuttall was painted by Mixtec artists at some time not to long before the Spanish Conquest. It is, in effect a Book of Kings, one of a series of masterworks narrating in picture and hieroglyph the sacred history of the Mixtecs. Centring around the year 1000 AD., it shows the births of kings, their marriages, offspring and major events in their lives.
Over a dazzling white gesso background swarm hundreds of figures painted in rich earth colours. Kings in elaborate costumes of textiles and skins, ornamented with feathers, wearing elaborate masks of pre-Columbian gods, carrying ceremonial objects, wearing strange accoutrements, they stalk or squat through the pages.
Warriors in battle dress advance, marriage ceremonies are celebrated with bowls of frothed chocolate, kings and their consorts face one another in solemn rites, a child is born, a naked priest rips the heart out of a victim in a stark temple, rows of figures bear tribute or offer ceramics and decorated aprons, grave men make hieratic gestures to one another, a leopard bares its teeth, a woman kneels by a stream, fantastic twin temples rise to the sky, and the strange Mixtec symbols mostly undeciphered, convey a hint of place-names now lost’.
She ends the introduction by saying ‘ This is a strange world of vision, perplexing at times in what it communicates, awe-inspiring for its simple, powerful technique, at times baffling, but its realm of beauty and visual symbol without modern counterpart. Within its alien aesthetics it is one of the most beautiful books in the world, and it deserves a modern re-experiencing.