Ancient Art Week!
Black Woman Holding Beauty Implements
Egypt (19th Dynasty; 1292-1187 B.C.E.)
Terracotta, 20 cm.
Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum, Department of Antiquities
The Image of the Black in Western Art Research Project and Photo Archive, W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
I have to say, despite the fragmented state of this figurine, this woman’s beauty is striking. It’s no surprise she’s holding beauty implements.
Ancient Art Week!
Funeral Portrait of a Man
Antinopolis (3rd Century)
Encaustic on Beechwood Panel, 40 x 28 cm.
Musée des beaux-arts de Dijon
A new study released Thursday by the Walk Free Foundation attempts to measure modern slavery. The above infographic looks at the grim reality of modern slavery through a numerical lens.
Sir Morien, Black Knight of the Round Table
The tale of Sir Morien, written into Celtic Arthurian canon in the 1200s and contemporaneous with the tales of Sir Galahad, begins thus:
Herein doth the adventure tell of a knight who was named Morien. And of a Moorish princess was he begotten at that time when Agloval sought far and wide for Lancelot, who was lost, as ye have read here afore.
I ween that he who made the tale of Lancelot and set it in rhyme forgat, and was heedless of, the fair adventure of Morien. I marvel much that they who were skilled in verse and the making of rhymes did not bring the story to its rightful ending.
Some quick paraphrasing from ElodieUnderGlass’s blog:
He decides to visit England alone in the hopes of finding his father, via the quirky but unproductive method of beating up every knight he comes across until they told him where his father was/were actually his father all along. As a teenager, he held his own against the disguised Sir Lancelot in hand-to-hand combat for so long that Sir Gawain begged them to stop fighting, as he couldn’t bear to see such good knights kill each other for stupid reasons.
Meanwhile, characters in these stories aren’t really visually described unless they have superlative characteristics, such as mysterious all-black armor or remarkably long golden hair. Many knights were described as dark in hair and features. Instead of placing a large flashing sign in the middle of a saga going “THIS PERSON IS TOTALLY A PERSON OF COLOR YOU GUYS, WE REALLY HOPE YOU WILL TAKE THIS INTO ACCOUNT IN FUTURE ADAPTATIONS” the narrative might well have said “Sir Bors, who was dark” and moved on, assuming that readers or listeners would interpret it the way the narrator meant. Sir Morien is described as wearing North African armor, though most images of him are in European gear, possibly because the artists found Moorish armor too hard to draw.
Interestingly, this narrative makes a large point of describing his skin color, possibly because it was thought to be unusual and dramatic, especially as he seems to match his own shield and armor.
Here are some quotes from the translated saga of Morien:
He was all black, even as I tell ye: his head, his body, and his hands were all black, saving only his teeth. His shield and his armour were even those of a Moor, and black as a raven…
Had they not heard him call upon God no man had dared face him, deeming that he was the devil or one of his fellows out of hell, for that his steed was so great, and he was taller even than Sir Lancelot, and black withal, as I said afore…
When the Moor heard these words he laughed with heart and mouth (his teeth were white as chalk, otherwise was he altogether black)…
Morien’s saga ends when he finds his father (Sir Agrovale of the Round Table) and convinces him to return to Africa and marry Morien’s mother, thus making an honest woman of her and a legitimate son of Morien. Sir Agrovale goes “OH, hey, yeah, I completely forgot I was going to do that! Sorry, son!” and they get married and Sir Morien can therefore legally inherit his mother’s kingdom and gets to be a king.
1. Statue of a Knight believed to be representative of Morien (Moriaen), unknown artist, later brought to Magdenburg Dom and called Saint Maurice c. 1220
2. Miniature from Illuminated Manuscript circa 1350s, of Morien, Moriaen, Maricen, or Saint Maurice, in European Armor
3. Two later images of Sir Morien from the 1700s, from German language PDF source.
I’m bothered by the fact that I’ve never heard of this. In ALLL my study of king arthur. KA used to be the topic that I was most knowledgeable about. I began studying on my own in jr high, and continued through high school. I read much of Le Mort de Arthur, as well as Idylls of the King. I watched documentaries. Wtf man, I’m so disappointed in all the books I read.
This bitch jumped on the back of her heels
i would actually break my whole entire life if i attempted that
Happy International Archaeology Day! I can’t wait to do some excavating today!
The Agrippine Sibyl
Netherlands (c. 1575)
Düsseldorf, Kunst Palast
Does anyone know the history/story behind this painting? Is it religious, classical, a portrait?
All I know is that Sibyls are female holy people…I believe there’s a “set” of Sibyls that are wise women that I thiiiiink represent certain religious/spiritual/moral aspects. Honestly, I know little about what this painting is but from my art history studies, this is what I can say:
1. This MAY be a portrait. Sometimes, people were painted as religious figures - this was not unusual for this period and location.
2. SYMBOLISM is highly important in this region and time (as it is in many others) - crown of thorns is visible, dressed in fineries, the scroll, the rod (which might also be a pen?) - all of these can be linked to the Christian religion.
3. After a Google Search, the text on the scroll “siccabitur ut(?) folium” means “wither as leaf” - I am sorry, I don’t know what this is referring to.
Unfortunately, I have always had a little trouble picking out Christian symbolism. This is what I can poop out for now!
The Sibyls were legendary prophetesses who were said to have foretold to the Gentiles,as the prophets has foretold them to the Jews, various aspects of the Advent and Sojourn upon earth of the Messiah. They were twelve in number: the Persian Sibyl, the Libyan, the Delvic, the Erithrean, the Cumean, the Samean, the Cimmerian, the Tiburtine, the Hellespontine, the Phrygian, the European, and the Agrippine.
The majority of the Sibyls were said to have pagan roots, and as is obvious from the list, only one is mentioned to have hailed from Europe, so we can assume these were almost all women of color.
As for the woman in this painting, it is very likely she was a woman hired by Janssens to sit for the portrait, on account of her beauty and regal bearing. During this era of Netherlandish painting, commissioned paintings of Black people in lavish dress and jewelry were common, since much of the arts were funded by wealthy patrons who were very invested in international trade. The Adoration was also a very popular contemporaneous choice of subject, as depictions of incredibly wealthy traders with dark skin were often showcased to foster goodwill with traders from afar.