mymodernmet:

With the help of the mobile app Kirlian Device mobile, designer Luis Hernan captures long exposure photos of Wi-Fi signals as ghostly streaks of color in an attempt to create a visible representation of this wireless technology that surrounds us every day.

¡¡Así se ve el wifi!!

rejectedprincesses:

Ida B. Wells: Princess of the Press (1862-1931)
(this is a long post, so click here for easier side-by-side reading of text and image)
This week we switch gears from warriors and murderers, and focus on one of the luminaries of the early Civil Rights Movement: Ida B. Wells, who refused to vacate her train seat in 1884 (a good 71 years before Rosa Parks), and who led the charge to end lynching in the United States.
Ida was a tough one from the get-go. When, at age 16, her parents died from a Yellow Fever epidemic, she rolled up her sleeves, got a job, and worked to keep her siblings out of foster care. Kind of like a Reconstruction-era version of Party of Five. At age 21, the conductor on a train on which she was a passenger ordered her to vacate her seat – so that a white woman could use it. Ida refused. When the conductor tried forcibly removing her, she hooked her feet into the chair and refused to budge. When he tore her sleeve in the attempt, she scratched at him and bit him. When a gang of men finally removed her from the car, she sued the entire train company, and won. (although it was later overturned via legal shenanigans)
But by far her most significant achievements were in her anti-lynching journalism.
So let’s talk about lynching. I’d wager that mostly what it conjures up is an image of someone being hung by a tree. The reality was usually far, FAR worse than that. We’re talking torture that would make Elisabeth Bathory or Wu Zetian shudder. If you have a weak stomach, you’re forewarned — but try to stick with it. It’s important you understand what this woman devoted her life to stopping. During my childhood, and I’m betting during yours too, these descriptions were constantly censored. Well, I’m not going to do that.
Here’s summaries of just a few lynchings that Ida would report on:
1892: Tommie Moss, Henry Stewart, and Calvin McDowell, who were shot to pieces (McDowell had literally fist-size holes in him). Moss died pleading for them to spare him for the sake of his pregnant wife. The thing that started this all off was, in all seriousness, a kids’ game of marbles. More on this in a bit.
1893: Henry Smith, whose clothes were torn off and kept as mementos by the 10,000-man crowd; who had red-hot iron brands placed all over his body for 50 minutes, until they finally burnt out his eyes and thrust irons down his throat; who was then set on fire, and when he managed to jump out (he was still alive!), was pushed back in. Someone made a watch charm from his kneecap. Photographers sold postcards of the event. His screams were recorded and sold on gramophone, like the world’s most fucked-up ringtone.
1898: Frazier Baker, whose only “crime” was being appointed a postmaster in a small South Carolina town. His house was set on fire, and when he and his family fled, they were all shot — everyone was wounded, with Frazier and his one-year-old baby killed. Their charred bodies were found near the wreckage of the house the next day.
1899: Sam Hose, for whose mob execution they arranged a special train so that more people could attend. He was first tied to a tree, stripped naked, and then mutilated: they severed his left ear, then his right. Then his fingers were lopped off and his penis sliced off. Then he was set on fire. As his body burnt, the crowd of 2,000 people cut off pieces of him as souvenirs. Bone bits were twenty-five cents and slices of liver, ten. Even the tree to which he was tied was chopped up and sold.
1904: Luther Holbert and a woman (presumed to be his wife), who were forced to hold out their arms as their fingers were chopped off. Their ears were cut off, their eyes poked out, and a large corkscrew was used to bore spirals of “raw, quivering flesh” out of their arms, legs, and bodies. Finally, they were burned to death.
1911: Will Porter, who was taken to an opera house, tied to the stage, and shot by people who bought tickets for the privilege.
If you need to go look at pictures of kittens for a second, I understand. I’ll still be here.
Back? Good. Now, remember the Moss incident, the one with the marbles? It’s important for a couple reasons: it’s the first lynching that really grabbed Ida’s journalistic attention (Moss was a friend of hers); it caused a mass exodus of blacks from Memphis (Ida bought a gun and stayed); and it’s a useful microcosm to examine lynchings as a whole. Now, while it’s true that the inciting incident was a kid’s game of marbles, the real story was that the three men killed were associated with a thriving black-owned grocery store that was taking away business from a nearby white-owned one. The white grocery’s owner was the ringleader behind the mob that ended their lives. He orchestrated the horrifying murder of three people for… basically, a better financial quarter.
So Ida got to work. The end result: Southern Horrors, a seminal pamphlet that blew the lid off of lynching myths. Prior to that, the widely-believed stereotype was that black men were out-of-control brutes who were constantly a hair’s breadth from assaulting white women – and somehow this was believable to a large swath of the population. I don’t know, man, they were still doing  trepanning in those days. 
Anyway, the common wisdom about lynching was that it was in response to black men raping white women. Except that was unadulterated horseshit, and Southern Horrors proved it. By analyzing a huge number of cases and laying them out in an academic manner, Ida showed that rape had nothing to do with a majority of lynchings, and that most of the time the reason was either political, economic, or plain ol’ racist violence against loving interracial relationships.
As you could imagine, this did not win her a lot of admirers in certain circles. 
A week after she first reported on this, while she was away on business, a mob broke into the offices of her newspaper, the Free Speech, and burnt it to the ground (yes, they were literally eradicating Free Speech). The mob threatened to lynch her if she ever returned to Memphis. In response, she looked into returning to Memphis – only to be informed that a group of black men were organizing to protect her, should she return. Wanting to avoid a race riot, she stayed away, but kept writing, madder than the devil and twice as eloquent.
Her keeping away from Memphis is understandable – race riots were a recurrent problem of her era, and she didn’t want to be party to another one. Even calling them race riots doesn’t quite get at it, because it was usually more of a one-sided assault. A sampling of just a couple that occurred during her life (try and imagine any of this happening nowadays):
1898: The city of Wilmington, North Carolina had its newly-elected biracial city government overthrown by white supremacists in a coup d’etat. President McKinley and the federal government just looked the other way. The white insurrectionists won, gunning down a great number of blacks in the process. That’s right, there was never any happy ending here: the black people of Wilmington just packed up and moved away.
1908: In Springfield, Illinois, a 5,000-10,000 man mob of would-be lynchers, stymied from killing their intended targets by the county sheriff, rioted in black neighborhoods. They burnt down churches, business, and homes, killing many black citizens.
1917: In St. Louis, after a confusing early back-and-forth that resulted in some black citizens accidentally killing a police detective, a mob of white people stormed the black part of town, cut the water lines, set black peoples’ houses on fire, and shot at anyone who exited the buildings. Between 40-200 people were killed.
1919: In Chicago, 5 days of riots ended with 38 people dead, 537 injured, and over 1000 newly homeless. Arsonists took aim at black businesses and homes, laying steel cables across the street so the fire trucks could not pass.
Despite all this, and the ever-present death threats, Ida continued putting herself in danger for the next forty years (!) by investigating and writing about lynchings. On more than one occasion, she passed herself off as a widow or a relative of the deceased in order to gain better journalistic access — an act which earned one of her contemporaries, who tried the same trick, his own lynch mob (thankfully, he escaped). 
And she would not tone herself down.
Although people wanted her to! Oh, how they wanted her to! Early on, papers that championed her would slip in statements saying she’d “never get a husband so long as she lets those editors make her so hideous.” Even other activists asked her to quiet her fiery rhetoric. She never did. 
For a good thirteen years, she was practically the only person doing investigatory journalism into lynching. Once others gained interest in the subject – in no small part due to her herculean efforts, which included speaking tours abroad, the establishment of a great many civil rights organizations, and endless reams of articles and pamphlets – she was relegated to a footnote. Despite her massive contributions to the cause, she was almost left off the NAACP’s founders list, due in no small part to some wanting to distance themselves from her forceful language.
In the end, she did have a family, marrying a man who supported and advocated for her. Together they had four children, with Ida bearing the first at age 34 and the last at 42. She would even bring her children with her on her speaking tours, declaring herself the only woman in US history to travel with a nursing baby to make political speeches. Her entire family got into the activism, too – once, while Ida was feeling despondent about going out to investigate yet another lynching, her son demanded she do so. “If you don’t,” he asked, “who will?” When she came around on the subject, the entire family was waiting, their things packed, to join her on her travels.
I don’t know about you, but that gives me the cutest mental image. 
She died at age 68, almost done with her autobiography. The last chapter ended mid-sentence, mid-word.
The inspiration for this post came a long time ago, from this Hark! A Vagrant comic. I started reading more about her, and I couldn’t stop.
Thanks go to my activist/feminist/socialist/rad-as-fuck friend Peta Lindsay. She, being far more knowledgeable about these matters than I, helped provide the proper context for this entry by (rightly) insisting on establishing the background of what Ida was up against. You can find her work here or follow her on twitter here!
 
ART NOTES
She is depicted here being tossed off a moving train car, although it was definitely stopped when they forced her off. I wanted the image of her speeding towards the future, into the light (while the conductor is in the shadows).
She is, of course, striking a very animated princess kind of pose. I imagine a musical number happening at that very moment.
 The train cars and outfit are period-accurate.
The flying papers represent her reams of writing, with the nearest one to camera being the actual cover for Southern Horrors. 
Underneath the tree is a cut rope, being slowly blanketed by her work. I didn’t want to illustrate an actual lynching, or even a noose. I thought this was more poetically accurate to the spirit of her work, without being overly graphic.
The opossum in the tree is a callback to a Loyal League parade float, which featured a black man against a tree with a bunch of dead opossums (which I take were meant to symbolize lynchers). She was never directly involved with the Loyal League as far as I know, but they traveled in the same circles, and I liked the image as a euphemism.
The title “Princess of the Press” was an actual title applied to her during her life. The name was partly a reference to Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Princess Ida”, a comic opera about a feminist teacher.
CITATIONS
I consulted the great-grandaddy of all Ida B Wells books, Ida: A Sword Among Lions. It’s 800 pages long, 150 of which are dedicated to bibliography, glossary, and assorted notes. It was a very long read.
 
BOOKKEEPING:
In case you missed it, I instituted an official “you are smarter than I am” certificate! Giving them out for awesome corrections, questions, or for whoever can first correctly identify all the references in the certificate. Give it a shot!
 
NEXT WEEK ON REJECTED PRINCESSES
The last of her kind, she found her enemies and made them eat Crow.

rejectedprincesses:

Ida B. Wells: Princess of the Press (1862-1931)

(this is a long post, so click here for easier side-by-side reading of text and image)

This week we switch gears from warriors and murderers, and focus on one of the luminaries of the early Civil Rights Movement: Ida B. Wells, who refused to vacate her train seat in 1884 (a good 71 years before Rosa Parks), and who led the charge to end lynching in the United States.

Ida was a tough one from the get-go. When, at age 16, her parents died from a Yellow Fever epidemic, she rolled up her sleeves, got a job, and worked to keep her siblings out of foster care. Kind of like a Reconstruction-era version of Party of Five. At age 21, the conductor on a train on which she was a passenger ordered her to vacate her seat – so that a white woman could use it. Ida refused. When the conductor tried forcibly removing her, she hooked her feet into the chair and refused to budge. When he tore her sleeve in the attempt, she scratched at him and bit him. When a gang of men finally removed her from the car, she sued the entire train company, and won. (although it was later overturned via legal shenanigans)

But by far her most significant achievements were in her anti-lynching journalism.

So let’s talk about lynching. I’d wager that mostly what it conjures up is an image of someone being hung by a tree. The reality was usually far, FAR worse than that. We’re talking torture that would make Elisabeth Bathory or Wu Zetian shudder. If you have a weak stomach, you’re forewarned — but try to stick with it. It’s important you understand what this woman devoted her life to stopping. During my childhood, and I’m betting during yours too, these descriptions were constantly censored. Well, I’m not going to do that.

Here’s summaries of just a few lynchings that Ida would report on:

  • 1892: Tommie Moss, Henry Stewart, and Calvin McDowell, who were shot to pieces (McDowell had literally fist-size holes in him). Moss died pleading for them to spare him for the sake of his pregnant wife. The thing that started this all off was, in all seriousness, a kids’ game of marbles. More on this in a bit.
  • 1893: Henry Smith, whose clothes were torn off and kept as mementos by the 10,000-man crowd; who had red-hot iron brands placed all over his body for 50 minutes, until they finally burnt out his eyes and thrust irons down his throat; who was then set on fire, and when he managed to jump out (he was still alive!), was pushed back in. Someone made a watch charm from his kneecap. Photographers sold postcards of the event. His screams were recorded and sold on gramophone, like the world’s most fucked-up ringtone.
  • 1898: Frazier Baker, whose only “crime” was being appointed a postmaster in a small South Carolina town. His house was set on fire, and when he and his family fled, they were all shot — everyone was wounded, with Frazier and his one-year-old baby killed. Their charred bodies were found near the wreckage of the house the next day.
  • 1899: Sam Hose, for whose mob execution they arranged a special train so that more people could attend. He was first tied to a tree, stripped naked, and then mutilated: they severed his left ear, then his right. Then his fingers were lopped off and his penis sliced off. Then he was set on fire. As his body burnt, the crowd of 2,000 people cut off pieces of him as souvenirs. Bone bits were twenty-five cents and slices of liver, ten. Even the tree to which he was tied was chopped up and sold.
  • 1904: Luther Holbert and a woman (presumed to be his wife), who were forced to hold out their arms as their fingers were chopped off. Their ears were cut off, their eyes poked out, and a large corkscrew was used to bore spirals of “raw, quivering flesh” out of their arms, legs, and bodies. Finally, they were burned to death.
  • 1911: Will Porter, who was taken to an opera house, tied to the stage, and shot by people who bought tickets for the privilege.

If you need to go look at pictures of kittens for a second, I understand. I’ll still be here.

Back? Good. Now, remember the Moss incident, the one with the marbles? It’s important for a couple reasons: it’s the first lynching that really grabbed Ida’s journalistic attention (Moss was a friend of hers); it caused a mass exodus of blacks from Memphis (Ida bought a gun and stayed); and it’s a useful microcosm to examine lynchings as a whole. Now, while it’s true that the inciting incident was a kid’s game of marbles, the real story was that the three men killed were associated with a thriving black-owned grocery store that was taking away business from a nearby white-owned one. The white grocery’s owner was the ringleader behind the mob that ended their lives. He orchestrated the horrifying murder of three people for… basically, a better financial quarter.

So Ida got to work. The end result: Southern Horrors, a seminal pamphlet that blew the lid off of lynching myths. Prior to that, the widely-believed stereotype was that black men were out-of-control brutes who were constantly a hair’s breadth from assaulting white women – and somehow this was believable to a large swath of the population. I don’t know, man, they were still doing trepanning in those days. 

Anyway, the common wisdom about lynching was that it was in response to black men raping white women. Except that was unadulterated horseshit, and Southern Horrors proved it. By analyzing a huge number of cases and laying them out in an academic manner, Ida showed that rape had nothing to do with a majority of lynchings, and that most of the time the reason was either political, economic, or plain ol’ racist violence against loving interracial relationships.

As you could imagine, this did not win her a lot of admirers in certain circles. 

A week after she first reported on this, while she was away on business, a mob broke into the offices of her newspaper, the Free Speech, and burnt it to the ground (yes, they were literally eradicating Free Speech). The mob threatened to lynch her if she ever returned to Memphis. In response, she looked into returning to Memphis – only to be informed that a group of black men were organizing to protect her, should she return. Wanting to avoid a race riot, she stayed away, but kept writing, madder than the devil and twice as eloquent.

Her keeping away from Memphis is understandable – race riots were a recurrent problem of her era, and she didn’t want to be party to another one. Even calling them race riots doesn’t quite get at it, because it was usually more of a one-sided assault. A sampling of just a couple that occurred during her life (try and imagine any of this happening nowadays):

  • 1898: The city of Wilmington, North Carolina had its newly-elected biracial city government overthrown by white supremacists in a coup d’etat. President McKinley and the federal government just looked the other way. The white insurrectionists won, gunning down a great number of blacks in the process. That’s right, there was never any happy ending here: the black people of Wilmington just packed up and moved away.
  • 1908: In Springfield, Illinois, a 5,000-10,000 man mob of would-be lynchers, stymied from killing their intended targets by the county sheriff, rioted in black neighborhoods. They burnt down churches, business, and homes, killing many black citizens.
  • 1917: In St. Louis, after a confusing early back-and-forth that resulted in some black citizens accidentally killing a police detective, a mob of white people stormed the black part of town, cut the water lines, set black peoples’ houses on fire, and shot at anyone who exited the buildings. Between 40-200 people were killed.
  • 1919: In Chicago, 5 days of riots ended with 38 people dead, 537 injured, and over 1000 newly homeless. Arsonists took aim at black businesses and homes, laying steel cables across the street so the fire trucks could not pass.

Despite all this, and the ever-present death threats, Ida continued putting herself in danger for the next forty years (!) by investigating and writing about lynchings. On more than one occasion, she passed herself off as a widow or a relative of the deceased in order to gain better journalistic access — an act which earned one of her contemporaries, who tried the same trick, his own lynch mob (thankfully, he escaped). 

And she would not tone herself down.

Although people wanted her to! Oh, how they wanted her to! Early on, papers that championed her would slip in statements saying she’d “never get a husband so long as she lets those editors make her so hideous.” Even other activists asked her to quiet her fiery rhetoric. She never did. 

For a good thirteen years, she was practically the only person doing investigatory journalism into lynching. Once others gained interest in the subject – in no small part due to her herculean efforts, which included speaking tours abroad, the establishment of a great many civil rights organizations, and endless reams of articles and pamphlets – she was relegated to a footnote. Despite her massive contributions to the cause, she was almost left off the NAACP’s founders list, due in no small part to some wanting to distance themselves from her forceful language.

In the end, she did have a family, marrying a man who supported and advocated for her. Together they had four children, with Ida bearing the first at age 34 and the last at 42. She would even bring her children with her on her speaking tours, declaring herself the only woman in US history to travel with a nursing baby to make political speeches. Her entire family got into the activism, too – once, while Ida was feeling despondent about going out to investigate yet another lynching, her son demanded she do so. “If you don’t,” he asked, “who will?” When she came around on the subject, the entire family was waiting, their things packed, to join her on her travels.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me the cutest mental image. 

She died at age 68, almost done with her autobiography. The last chapter ended mid-sentence, mid-word.

The inspiration for this post came a long time ago, from this Hark! A Vagrant comic. I started reading more about her, and I couldn’t stop.

Thanks go to my activist/feminist/socialist/rad-as-fuck friend Peta Lindsay. She, being far more knowledgeable about these matters than I, helped provide the proper context for this entry by (rightly) insisting on establishing the background of what Ida was up against. You can find her work here or follow her on twitter here!

 

ART NOTES

  • She is depicted here being tossed off a moving train car, although it was definitely stopped when they forced her off. I wanted the image of her speeding towards the future, into the light (while the conductor is in the shadows).
  • She is, of course, striking a very animated princess kind of pose. I imagine a musical number happening at that very moment.
  • The train cars and outfit are period-accurate.
  • The flying papers represent her reams of writing, with the nearest one to camera being the actual cover for Southern Horrors.
  • Underneath the tree is a cut rope, being slowly blanketed by her work. I didn’t want to illustrate an actual lynching, or even a noose. I thought this was more poetically accurate to the spirit of her work, without being overly graphic.
  • The opossum in the tree is a callback to a Loyal League parade float, which featured a black man against a tree with a bunch of dead opossums (which I take were meant to symbolize lynchers). She was never directly involved with the Loyal League as far as I know, but they traveled in the same circles, and I liked the image as a euphemism.
  • The title “Princess of the Press” was an actual title applied to her during her life. The name was partly a reference to Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Princess Ida”, a comic opera about a feminist teacher.

CITATIONS

I consulted the great-grandaddy of all Ida B Wells books, Ida: A Sword Among Lions. It’s 800 pages long, 150 of which are dedicated to bibliography, glossary, and assorted notes. It was a very long read.

 

BOOKKEEPING:

In case you missed it, I instituted an official “you are smarter than I am” certificate! Giving them out for awesome corrections, questions, or for whoever can first correctly identify all the references in the certificate. Give it a shot!

 

NEXT WEEK ON REJECTED PRINCESSES

The last of her kind, she found her enemies and made them eat Crow.

Fin de la fábula

En las afueras de Pinar del Río, Cuba, en las proximidades de San pedro de Atacama, Chile, o en los suburbios de Nandaime, Nicaragua, tres niñas envidian la suerte de los viajeros cuando el rutinario atardecer diluye la naturaleza de las cosas.

La primera, caribeña que ya no juega a con los niños del barrio. La segunda, adolescente con rostro de niña y chompa de lana. La tercera, que ha crecido más rápido que sus amigas. Son una misma silueta, idéntica actitud en un bohío, en una casa de barro y techo de paja o junto a una habitación de paredes de palma y cartón.

                Quienes atravesamos sus hogares, agobiados por viajes vacuos o intensos, alcanzamos a verlas fugazmente y alguna vez les regalamos un gesto al descuido y evidenciamos, si acaso, en su fragilidad expectante, que la rueda del destino no detendrá nunca la molicie de existir, pues esas miradas de niña añoran aprehender el mundo con la avidez que sólo una vida en cierne confiere.

                Por un lado, su ilusión proyectada sobre la ruta. El deseo de partir por ese camino de promesas rutilantes que las deja a un lado cada día. Por el otro, el desencanto arrastrado en carromatos de bojiganga, la fatiga de quien ha trajinado países en busca de algo que permanece elusivo. Un intercambio justo de mercancías en el equilibro del Universo.

Benjamín Chávez

“El libro entre los árboles” Premio único del 1er concurso municipal de Poesía “Edmundo Camargo”. Casa de la cultura, Gobierno Autónomo Municipal de Cochabamba, 2014. 

Credible Likeable Superstar Palaeontologist! Because they don’t come much cooler than this.

trowelblazers:

A little while back, Team TrowelBlazers’ own Victoria Herridge had the opportunity to participate in a wild and scaly adventure deep in the heart of South London. She met up with Credible Likeable Superstar Catherine Bennett, who puts the Superstar into Scientist and the Popstar into Palaeontologist, and a whole team of inspirational palaeontologists in Crystal Palace’s Dinosaur Court, to talk about exactly how cool her job is.

Catherine Bennett is the alter ego of performance artist Bryony Kimmings, who had the rather shockingly novel idea to create a role model with the help of her young niece that was actually inspiring, and can be seen in her Big Show at Soho Theatre in London, and on her website here.

Check out this post by Tori on the ScienceGrrl website on the success of the day!

rejectedprincesses:

Khutulun: the Wrestler Princess
So that was a hell of a first week for this site.
First, a small announcement: yes, I am working on an RP book. Don’t know when, don’t know how, but someday! Want to know more, sign up on this mailing list - no spam, I promise. (also I tweaked all the text throughout the entire signup process to be as amusing as possible)
Second: I had several mistakes in the writeups when I launched this — some big, some small. More details at the end of this post, but for now: go back and re-read Nzinga Mbande’s entry, please. Other ones were tweaked, expanded, qualified, but hers was outright corrected.
Now on to the newest Rejected Princess: Khutulun, Khan princess of 10,000 horses.
Quickly, a bit of background on the Khans’ Mongol Empire, in case you don’t know much - bottom line, it was a big deal. At its height, it was the largest contiguous empire in human history, stretching from China to Europe and the Middle East. The whole thing was started by Genghis Khan (maybe you’ve heard of him), who unified a number of nomadic tribes under a single banner. While he did bring many advances to the regions he conquered (religious tolerance, increased trade, meritocracy — all good things), you probably know him more for his reputation for brutality. Certainly he was known for it back in the day, too.
And it was not undeserved. Here’s an example: buddy once conquered a nation called the Khwarezmid Empire. Right after taking control, he decided to erase it from existence, burning towns to the ground and killing everyone in its government. He went so far as to divert a river through the deposed emperor’s birthplace, wiping it off the map. This sort of thing was what he was known for, and it was those warlike traits that he passed down to his descendants.
Khutulun was his great-great-granddaughter.
By 1260, the year Khutulun was born, the Mongol Empire was starting to fray at the seams, and civil war was imminent. Basically, some of the Khans — Khutulun’s father Kaidu among them — favored the old ways of riding, shooting, and other trappings of the nomadic lifestyle, while Kublai Khan — Kaidu’s uncle — was more into politics, governing well, and other things that no doubt bored the average Mongol to tears. Eventually Kaidu and Kublai began outright warring against each other, in a conflict that would last thirty years. Throughout this, Kaidu relied on one person above all others when it came to military expertise, and, spoiler alert, it was not any of his 14 sons — it was Khutulun.
So, Khutulun: as you could imagine, growing up with 14 brothers in an old-school nomadic Mongolian household, she had no shortage of testosterone around her at any given time. She grew up to be incredibly skilled with riding horses and shooting bows — Marco Polo, history’s greatest tourist, described her thusly:

"Sometimes she would quit her father’s side, and make a dash at the host of the enemy, and seize some man thereout, as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird, and carry him to her father; and this she did many a time."

I mean, picture that. You’re up against a horde of Mongolian warriors riding into battle. You’re tracking the movements of this huge chunk of stolid soldiers, trying to read which way they’re going. Suddenly, one of them — a woman, no less — darts out from the group, picks off a random person in your group, and runs back, before you even know what’s happened. That’s intimidating as fuck.
But all of this paled in comparison next to her skill with wrestling.
The Mongols of Kaidu Khan’s clan valued physical ability above all things. They bet on matches constantly, and if you won, people thought you were literally gifted by the gods. Now, these weren’t your modern day matches, separated out by things like weight class and gender — anyone could and did wrestle anyone else, and they’d keep going until one of them hit the floor. This was the environment in which Khutulun competed. Against men. Of all shapes and sizes.
She was undefeated.
Now, okay, back up. How can we be sure of that? Well, according to Marco Polo (and this is corroborated by other historians of the time, including Rashid al-Din), papa Kaidu desperately wanted to see his daughter Khutulun married, but she refused to do so unless her potential suitor was able to beat her in wrestling. So she set up a standing offer, available to all comers: beat her and she’d marry you. Lose, and you give her 100 horses.
She ended up with 10,000 horses and no husband.
Now, in these sorts of texts, 10,000 is like saying “a million.” It’s shorthand for “so many I can’t count them all” — you may also remember that Mai Bhago also fought 10,000 Mughals at Khidrana. While 10,000 may have been hyperbolic, suffice to say, it was a truly ludicrous amount of horses, supposedly rivaling the size of the emperor’s herds.
She remained this stubborn about marriage even as she got older and pressure mounted on her to marry. Marco Polo tells of a time where a cockier-than-average suitor challenged her. This dude was so confident that he bet 1,000 horses instead of the usual hundred. Apparently he was a decent fella, too, because Kaidu and his wife really dug him. Khutulun’s parents approached her privately and begged her to just throw the match. Just lose intentionally, they said, so you can marry this totally decent guy.
She walked away from that match 1,000 horses richer.
Unfortunately, due to her stubborn refusal to take a husband, people began to talk. Rumors began to spread around the empire that she was having an incestuous affair with her father (these sorts of slanderous rumors, you may begin to note, are a recurrent problem for historical Rejected Princesses). Realizing the problems her refusal to marry was causing for her family, she did finally apparently settle down with someone — although who, exactly, is subject to some debate. Whoever it was never beat her at wrestling, though.
Near the end of his life, Kaidu attempted to install Khutulun as the next Khan leader, only to meet stiff resistance from others — particularly Khutulun’s many brothers. Instead, a rival named Duwa was appointed to be Great Khan, and Khutulun’s story here begins to slide into obscurity. Five years after Kaidu’s  death, Khutulun died under unknown circumstances, at the age of forty-six. Afterwards, the Mongol Empire, particularly the more nomadic factions, began to crumble. Khutulun could be considered one of the last great nomadic warrior princesses.
After her death, she was forgotten for centuries. She only began her comeback to historical prominence starting in 1710 when a Frenchman named Francois Petis de La Croix, while putting together his biography of Genghis Khan, wrote a story based on Khutulun. This story was called Turandot (“Turkish Daughter”), but it was greatly changed from the facts of her life. In it, Turandot challenged her suitors with riddles instead of wrestling matches, and if they failed her challenge, they were killed.
Centuries later, in the early 1900s, the story of Turandot was turned into an Italian opera — except, getting even farther from Khutulun’s actual history, the opera became about a take-no-nonsense woman finally giving in to love. Ugh.
But while the West may have totally rewritten history with its recasting of Khutulun into Turandot, Mongolia continues to honor Khutulun’s actual story to this day. The traditional outfit worn by Mongolian wrestlers is conspicuously open-chest — the reason being to show that the wrestler is not a woman, in deference to the undefeated Khutulun.
ART NOTES:
The scene is set at night as a reference to Khutulun’s Turkish name of Aijaruc (used by Marco Polo), meaning “moonlight”.
She wears a silver medal around her neck — this is a gergee (also known as paiza), a medallion given by the Great Khan that signifies the power of the holder. It was usually reserved for men. Most women instead used seals to signifiy their status — Khutulun is the only woman ever mentioned as owning a gergee.
Her outfit is not a wrestling outfit by any stretch, but Mongolian fashion is so bright, colorful, and interesting, that I wanted to show that off. The outfit I chose is mostly based off of a man’s outfit, but given that she had many masculine qualities, I thought that was okay. For alternate takes on how she might have looked, check out “additional information,” below.
She was described by Marco Polo as being broad and powerfully-built. This obviously doesn’t square very well with the standard aesthetic of animated princesses, so I tried to meet in the middle on it. She’s noticeably broader than everyone else I’ve drawn, but she’s also angled in such a way that it’s a bit hard to tell.
The idea for her pose was inspired by portraits of noblewomen sitting demurely with their hands in their laps.
The background is filled with horses and yurts — the Mongols of Kaidu’s tribe almost certainly slept in yurts. Well, technically, the Mongolians called them gers (thanks theredfolio!), but I just love the word yurt (which is Russian, a group whom the Mongolians hated). I’m sorry, ancient Mongola. I can’t help saying it. Yurt. Yurt yurt yurt.
Kaidu (seen in the background laughing his ass off) was actually a smaller, thinner man, supposedly with only 9 hairs on his entire head. That isn’t what I portrayed, but the point of him being in the image was to have him laugh, so I went for a more bowl-full-of-jelly kind of design instead.
They are, of course, on the Mongolian steppe. The wrestling match described by Marco Polo actually happened in a palace, but I wanted to capture her nomadic nature. Also, moonlight.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
This article is probably the most in-depth overview of her life that I’ve found yet. It’s written by Jack Weatherford, who wrote an entire book on female Mongols.
This short comic about her life (by the inimitable Molly Ostertag, whose webcomic Strong Female Protagonist just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign) is pretty great.
The Book of Sir Marco Polo the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms (volume 2) - my primary source. Only talks about Khutulun for a few pages, but the whole thing is pretty great. Marco Polo is just a trip to read.
A handful of people wrote in to suggest her, but the first was my brother, so credit goes to him. He wants to remain anonymous, and I have seven brothers in all (a lot, but nowhere near Khutulun levels), so hopefully that should be a decent smokescreen.
BOOKKEEPING (I know, this entry is never ending)
Like I’d said earlier, I’ve made corrections to almost all of the entries since initially launching this last Wednesday. I highly recommend going back to read, at bare minimum, the entries for Nzinga, Fredegund, and Sita. Many thanks to those who wrote in with additional information.
A word specifically on Nzinga. No other way to put it, I fucked up her writeup. I knew a fair bit of the more outlandish claims should be treated as rumor, and thought I’d indicated as such on the page. It was not until it had been up for maybe 3 or 4 days that I realized the language didn’t indicate that at all. It took me that long because nobody wrote me about it — maybe you reblogged me, but I’m new to tumblr, and trying to keep up with stuff here is like drinking from a firehose. I found out about this by stumbling upon communities of people (understandably) angrily talking about it, and about me, which was a bummer. I fixed it once I realized that and am trying to get to the bottom of the historical source of those rumors for future edits to her entry. If you take one thing from this, it’s that, if you see inaccuracies, let me know. If you take another thing from it, it’s that history’s hard to get right. I cover a bit of this in an interview here. 
This site was originally just some cute doodles I did for my friends about some stories I’d read about online and poked around with at the library. I put it on tumblr so my friends could share with their friends, and suddenly it’s on Huffington Post and I’m being held up to a professional standards. I’m doing my best to meet them (I hope that shows in the incredibly long post about Khutulun). However, I should have done better from the get-go.
From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for getting her entry wrong. I want this to be a place where people can trust the information portrayed, and get interested in history themselves. From here out, I’m going to try and provide sources wherever possible. I hope that you’ll forgive me this inaccuracy and keep reading in the future.
And as a gift for reading this far, here’s a daily affirmation.
Tune in next week for another princess. Here’s a hint: fight for Pedro!

La historia esconde muchas perlas como ésta :)

rejectedprincesses:

Khutulun: the Wrestler Princess

So that was a hell of a first week for this site.

First, a small announcement: yes, I am working on an RP book. Don’t know when, don’t know how, but someday! Want to know more, sign up on this mailing list - no spam, I promise. (also I tweaked all the text throughout the entire signup process to be as amusing as possible)

Second: I had several mistakes in the writeups when I launched this — some big, some small. More details at the end of this post, but for now: go back and re-read Nzinga Mbande’s entry, please. Other ones were tweaked, expanded, qualified, but hers was outright corrected.

Now on to the newest Rejected Princess: Khutulun, Khan princess of 10,000 horses.

Quickly, a bit of background on the Khans’ Mongol Empire, in case you don’t know much - bottom line, it was a big deal. At its height, it was the largest contiguous empire in human history, stretching from China to Europe and the Middle East. The whole thing was started by Genghis Khan (maybe you’ve heard of him), who unified a number of nomadic tribes under a single banner. While he did bring many advances to the regions he conquered (religious tolerance, increased trade, meritocracy — all good things), you probably know him more for his reputation for brutality. Certainly he was known for it back in the day, too.

And it was not undeserved. Here’s an example: buddy once conquered a nation called the Khwarezmid Empire. Right after taking control, he decided to erase it from existence, burning towns to the ground and killing everyone in its government. He went so far as to divert a river through the deposed emperor’s birthplace, wiping it off the map. This sort of thing was what he was known for, and it was those warlike traits that he passed down to his descendants.

Khutulun was his great-great-granddaughter.

By 1260, the year Khutulun was born, the Mongol Empire was starting to fray at the seams, and civil war was imminent. Basically, some of the Khans — Khutulun’s father Kaidu among them — favored the old ways of riding, shooting, and other trappings of the nomadic lifestyle, while Kublai Khan — Kaidu’s uncle — was more into politics, governing well, and other things that no doubt bored the average Mongol to tears. Eventually Kaidu and Kublai began outright warring against each other, in a conflict that would last thirty years. Throughout this, Kaidu relied on one person above all others when it came to military expertise, and, spoiler alert, it was not any of his 14 sons — it was Khutulun.

So, Khutulun: as you could imagine, growing up with 14 brothers in an old-school nomadic Mongolian household, she had no shortage of testosterone around her at any given time. She grew up to be incredibly skilled with riding horses and shooting bows — Marco Polo, history’s greatest tourist, described her thusly:

"Sometimes she would quit her father’s side, and make a dash at the host of the enemy, and seize some man thereout, as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird, and carry him to her father; and this she did many a time."

I mean, picture that. You’re up against a horde of Mongolian warriors riding into battle. You’re tracking the movements of this huge chunk of stolid soldiers, trying to read which way they’re going. Suddenly, one of them — a woman, no less — darts out from the group, picks off a random person in your group, and runs back, before you even know what’s happened. That’s intimidating as fuck.

But all of this paled in comparison next to her skill with wrestling.

The Mongols of Kaidu Khan’s clan valued physical ability above all things. They bet on matches constantly, and if you won, people thought you were literally gifted by the gods. Now, these weren’t your modern day matches, separated out by things like weight class and gender — anyone could and did wrestle anyone else, and they’d keep going until one of them hit the floor. This was the environment in which Khutulun competed. Against men. Of all shapes and sizes.

She was undefeated.

Now, okay, back up. How can we be sure of that? Well, according to Marco Polo (and this is corroborated by other historians of the time, including Rashid al-Din), papa Kaidu desperately wanted to see his daughter Khutulun married, but she refused to do so unless her potential suitor was able to beat her in wrestling. So she set up a standing offer, available to all comers: beat her and she’d marry you. Lose, and you give her 100 horses.

She ended up with 10,000 horses and no husband.

Now, in these sorts of texts, 10,000 is like saying “a million.” It’s shorthand for “so many I can’t count them all” — you may also remember that Mai Bhago also fought 10,000 Mughals at Khidrana. While 10,000 may have been hyperbolic, suffice to say, it was a truly ludicrous amount of horses, supposedly rivaling the size of the emperor’s herds.

She remained this stubborn about marriage even as she got older and pressure mounted on her to marry. Marco Polo tells of a time where a cockier-than-average suitor challenged her. This dude was so confident that he bet 1,000 horses instead of the usual hundred. Apparently he was a decent fella, too, because Kaidu and his wife really dug him. Khutulun’s parents approached her privately and begged her to just throw the match. Just lose intentionally, they said, so you can marry this totally decent guy.

She walked away from that match 1,000 horses richer.

Unfortunately, due to her stubborn refusal to take a husband, people began to talk. Rumors began to spread around the empire that she was having an incestuous affair with her father (these sorts of slanderous rumors, you may begin to note, are a recurrent problem for historical Rejected Princesses). Realizing the problems her refusal to marry was causing for her family, she did finally apparently settle down with someone — although who, exactly, is subject to some debate. Whoever it was never beat her at wrestling, though.

Near the end of his life, Kaidu attempted to install Khutulun as the next Khan leader, only to meet stiff resistance from others — particularly Khutulun’s many brothers. Instead, a rival named Duwa was appointed to be Great Khan, and Khutulun’s story here begins to slide into obscurity. Five years after Kaidu’s  death, Khutulun died under unknown circumstances, at the age of forty-six. Afterwards, the Mongol Empire, particularly the more nomadic factions, began to crumble. Khutulun could be considered one of the last great nomadic warrior princesses.

After her death, she was forgotten for centuries. She only began her comeback to historical prominence starting in 1710 when a Frenchman named Francois Petis de La Croix, while putting together his biography of Genghis Khan, wrote a story based on Khutulun. This story was called Turandot (“Turkish Daughter”), but it was greatly changed from the facts of her life. In it, Turandot challenged her suitors with riddles instead of wrestling matches, and if they failed her challenge, they were killed.

Centuries later, in the early 1900s, the story of Turandot was turned into an Italian opera — except, getting even farther from Khutulun’s actual history, the opera became about a take-no-nonsense woman finally giving in to love. Ugh.

But while the West may have totally rewritten history with its recasting of Khutulun into Turandot, Mongolia continues to honor Khutulun’s actual story to this day. The traditional outfit worn by Mongolian wrestlers is conspicuously open-chest — the reason being to show that the wrestler is not a woman, in deference to the undefeated Khutulun.

ART NOTES:

  • The scene is set at night as a reference to Khutulun’s Turkish name of Aijaruc (used by Marco Polo), meaning “moonlight”.
  • She wears a silver medal around her neck — this is a gergee (also known as paiza), a medallion given by the Great Khan that signifies the power of the holder. It was usually reserved for men. Most women instead used seals to signifiy their status — Khutulun is the only woman ever mentioned as owning a gergee.
  • Her outfit is not a wrestling outfit by any stretch, but Mongolian fashion is so bright, colorful, and interesting, that I wanted to show that off. The outfit I chose is mostly based off of a man’s outfit, but given that she had many masculine qualities, I thought that was okay. For alternate takes on how she might have looked, check out “additional information,” below.
  • She was described by Marco Polo as being broad and powerfully-built. This obviously doesn’t square very well with the standard aesthetic of animated princesses, so I tried to meet in the middle on it. She’s noticeably broader than everyone else I’ve drawn, but she’s also angled in such a way that it’s a bit hard to tell.
  • The idea for her pose was inspired by portraits of noblewomen sitting demurely with their hands in their laps.
  • The background is filled with horses and yurts — the Mongols of Kaidu’s tribe almost certainly slept in yurts. Well, technically, the Mongolians called them gers (thanks theredfolio!), but I just love the word yurt (which is Russian, a group whom the Mongolians hated). I’m sorry, ancient Mongola. I can’t help saying it. Yurt. Yurt yurt yurt.
  • Kaidu (seen in the background laughing his ass off) was actually a smaller, thinner man, supposedly with only 9 hairs on his entire head. That isn’t what I portrayed, but the point of him being in the image was to have him laugh, so I went for a more bowl-full-of-jelly kind of design instead.
  • They are, of course, on the Mongolian steppe. The wrestling match described by Marco Polo actually happened in a palace, but I wanted to capture her nomadic nature. Also, moonlight.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  1. This article is probably the most in-depth overview of her life that I’ve found yet. It’s written by Jack Weatherford, who wrote an entire book on female Mongols.
  2. This short comic about her life (by the inimitable Molly Ostertag, whose webcomic Strong Female Protagonist just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign) is pretty great.
  3. The Book of Sir Marco Polo the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms (volume 2) - my primary source. Only talks about Khutulun for a few pages, but the whole thing is pretty great. Marco Polo is just a trip to read.

A handful of people wrote in to suggest her, but the first was my brother, so credit goes to him. He wants to remain anonymous, and I have seven brothers in all (a lot, but nowhere near Khutulun levels), so hopefully that should be a decent smokescreen.

BOOKKEEPING (I know, this entry is never ending)

Like I’d said earlier, I’ve made corrections to almost all of the entries since initially launching this last Wednesday. I highly recommend going back to read, at bare minimum, the entries for Nzinga, Fredegund, and Sita. Many thanks to those who wrote in with additional information.

A word specifically on Nzinga. No other way to put it, I fucked up her writeup. I knew a fair bit of the more outlandish claims should be treated as rumor, and thought I’d indicated as such on the page. It was not until it had been up for maybe 3 or 4 days that I realized the language didn’t indicate that at all. It took me that long because nobody wrote me about it — maybe you reblogged me, but I’m new to tumblr, and trying to keep up with stuff here is like drinking from a firehose. I found out about this by stumbling upon communities of people (understandably) angrily talking about it, and about me, which was a bummer. I fixed it once I realized that and am trying to get to the bottom of the historical source of those rumors for future edits to her entry. If you take one thing from this, it’s that, if you see inaccuracies, let me know. If you take another thing from it, it’s that history’s hard to get right. I cover a bit of this in an interview here

This site was originally just some cute doodles I did for my friends about some stories I’d read about online and poked around with at the library. I put it on tumblr so my friends could share with their friends, and suddenly it’s on Huffington Post and I’m being held up to a professional standards. I’m doing my best to meet them (I hope that shows in the incredibly long post about Khutulun). However, I should have done better from the get-go.

From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for getting her entry wrong. I want this to be a place where people can trust the information portrayed, and get interested in history themselves. From here out, I’m going to try and provide sources wherever possible. I hope that you’ll forgive me this inaccuracy and keep reading in the future.

And as a gift for reading this far, here’s a daily affirmation.

Tune in next week for another princess. Here’s a hint: fight for Pedro!

La historia esconde muchas perlas como ésta :)

trowelblazers:

love LOVE the artwork!
coolchicksfromhistory:

Mary Anning 
Art by Annie Wilkinson (tumblr)
Mary was a fossil collector and paleontologist from Lyme Regis, England.  Lyme Regis is part of the Jurassic Coast, an area unusually rich in fossils.  The Anning family collected and sold fossils in order to supplement their meager income.  As children, Mary and her brother Joseph found the first complete Ichthyosaur.  Mary went on to find the first complete Plesiosaurus (1823), the first British Pterosaur (1828), and a Squaloraja (1829).  At the age of 27 Mary opened Anning’s Fossil Depot, which quickly became a popular destination for tourists and scientists alike.  Fossil collecting was dangerous work and in 1833 Mary lost her dog and nearly lost her life in a landslide.
A working class woman, Mary followed scientific journals but did not publish in them.  Often the men who bought her fossils neglected to include Mary’s name in the articles they published, an omission that understandably made Mary resentful.  However some collectors such as Thomas James Birch, Henry De la Beche, and William Buckland recognized the importance of Mary’s work and organized remuneration.  
More information: Mary Anning, Princess of Paleontology (Stuff You Missed in History Class) 

trowelblazers:

love LOVE the artwork!

coolchicksfromhistory:

Mary Anning 

Art by Annie Wilkinson (tumblr)

Mary was a fossil collector and paleontologist from Lyme Regis, England.  Lyme Regis is part of the Jurassic Coast, an area unusually rich in fossils.  The Anning family collected and sold fossils in order to supplement their meager income.  As children, Mary and her brother Joseph found the first complete Ichthyosaur.  Mary went on to find the first complete Plesiosaurus (1823), the first British Pterosaur (1828), and a Squaloraja (1829).  At the age of 27 Mary opened Anning’s Fossil Depot, which quickly became a popular destination for tourists and scientists alike.  Fossil collecting was dangerous work and in 1833 Mary lost her dog and nearly lost her life in a landslide.

A working class woman, Mary followed scientific journals but did not publish in them.  Often the men who bought her fossils neglected to include Mary’s name in the articles they published, an omission that understandably made Mary resentful.  However some collectors such as Thomas James Birch, Henry De la Beche, and William Buckland recognized the importance of Mary’s work and organized remuneration.  

More information: Mary Anning, Princess of Paleontology (Stuff You Missed in History Class) 

Some lit, comics and other cool stuff. Literatura, comics y relacionados. Literature et des autres choses géniaux.

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