Friday, June 25, 2010

The History of Candles

Since candles were invented, their usability in human culture and societies continues to diversify. At the beginning, it was only about the light. But at that time light was very essential for human existence. And it would not be wrong if I say that candles provided the base of today's modern world. And according to National Candle Association now there are more than 300 candle manufacturers in the U.S. alone.

Earliest use of candles is associated with ancient Egyptians. Dated from the 4th century B.C., Clay candle holders have been found in the Egypt.  In the early stage there was no wick, they were made up of tallow of sheep and cattle as it became hard.

A tallow candle, to be good, must be
Half sheep's tallow and half cow's. 
That of hoggs makes them gutter,
Give an ill smell and a thick black smoak
Author Unknown - 18th century

According to the research on ancient civilization, Roman Empire invented first candle wicks. They melted the tallow to a liquid state and poured it over the cotton fiber, flax or hemp and in this way they created a wick. Although these were good enough for little light but tallow creates smoke and bad smell while burning, so this was the problem.
Tallow candle making room in a castle 

Asians were smart enough that they started extracting the wax from insects, plants and seeds. Between 618 AD and 907 AD, Chinese discovered the use of beeswax. In the early Indian culture they extracted wax from boiling cinnamon. This wax helped in creating the tapered ones. At that time these were mainly used at Indian temples.

Native Americans used the oily fish as candle in the first century A.D., these fishes were called candlefish. Afterwards it became more common among all the human civilizations; both beeswax and tallow made were produced. According to some historians, spermaceti wax was used for first "Standard candles". Mass production of the candles started in 1834. A machine was invented by Morgan that used a cylindrical piston that ejected solid candles in their molds.

Come visit the author latest websites on Glass Candle Holders and Tea Light Candles

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Selene of Alexandria

SELENE OF ALEXANDRIA'Selene of Alexandria' by Faith L. Justice, is a historical novel, a straight one if you are into genres and subgenres, which is set in Alexandria during the fifth century.
Selene is only fourteen, when she makes a serious decision concerning her life. She wishes to defy her class's expectations by becoming a physician. At those times, this is an absolute No-no. She finds support in Hypatia, the famous female mathematician and philosopher. She convinces her father to allow her pursuing her goal in a time, in which the Catholic Church is torn in sects, and Byzantine is all that remained from the Roman Empire. Soon, Selene finds herself amidst the struggle for power.
Embedded in the history of Alexandria, we watch Selene come to age. We experience the violence and fanaticism, tearing through the young church and the few remaining pagans. Selene is the strong and very independent woman type, maybe a tiny bit too modern in her ways; however, Faith manages to let us forget that Selene’s story is her vehicle to introduce us to Hypatia’s life.
The characters are well-drawn, the plot propels us forward, and the writing carries us easily throughout the story. Even the antagonist comes across as a fully fleshed out person. Especially the depiction of all the historical figures we see through Selene’s eyes and the level of authenticity are remarkable. No doubt, Faith has done her homework very well.
Having enjoyed reading it and being left curious about a sequel, I would like to recommend 'Selene of Alexandria' to the lover of straight historical fiction who cherishes authenticity and wants to learn about the dusk of the classical era and the dawn of Christianity.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chopines - Platform Heels Renaissance Style

Chopines were platform shoes worn by women in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.   They protected the shoes and dress from mud and street soil.   Chopines were usually put on with the help of two servants.  They caused an unstable and inelegant gait.  Women who wore them usually were accompanied by a servant or attendant upon whom they could balance themselves.

In Venice, the chopine was worn by women of the nobility and courtesans.  The chopine became a symbolic reference to the cultural and social standing of the wearer; the higher the chopine, the higher the status of the wearer.

17th Century Venetian Chopines
This high shoe allowed a woman to literally and figuratively tower over others.  During the Renaissance, they became a regular article of women's and became more and more loftier as the years went on.  Some were over 20 inches in height. 

Shakespeare joked about the extreme height of the chopines by using the word altitude in Hamlet when the prince greets a lady and notes how much "nearer to heaven" she had grown since he last saw her — "by the altitude of a chopine."

 Because of a few surviving chopines to this day, we know they are made of wood or cork and covered with leather, brocades, or jewel-embroidered velvet, sometimes to match the fabric of the gown worn.

With practice a woman could walk and even dance gracefully when donning a pair. 

The Italian word for chopines is "zoccoli" which comes from the Italian word "zocco," meaning a stump or a block of wood. 




Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

104 Year old Film from 1906 San Francisco

Imagine sitting on this cable car as it slowly drives down Market Street at the Embarcadero Wharf in San Francisco in 1906. This film was "lost" for many years. It was the first 35mm film ever, taken by camera mounted on the front of a cable car.

This film was produced only four days before the Great California Earthquake and then shipped by train to New York for processing. The date was verified by weather conditions and license plates.

I very much enjoyed seeing some of the hats the ladies are wearing. Notice how it's the men who take the risks when crossing the street. The ladies do it much more cautiously. And towards the later part of the film, you'll see a hair-raising manuevre by a car as it squeezes between the main cable car and one that is fast approaching! What a fascinating treasure of history! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bridget Bishop 1692

Bridget Bishop was born sometime between 1632 and 1637, and during her life, she married three times, but never had any children.  After her first two husbands died, she married Edward Bishop, a sawyer or wood cutter.

During the Salem witch trials, she received the most accusations.  The accusations against her were exceptionally vehement and viciousos - not so much as it pertained to being a witch, but more because of her flagrant and body lifestyle and risky form of dress.  She liked to wear red and kept the rumours flying with tales of her numerous and public fights with her husbands, the wild parties in her home till the wee hours of the morning, her love of drink and her passion for the sinful game of shovel board.  To make matters worse, she, a mere woman, owned two highly successful taverns!

In the Puritan society in which she lived, her blatant disregard for propriety soon brought much unwanted attention to her.  Before long, her dubious character came under speculation because of her shameful conduct caused.  People blamed her for the troubles that arose in other families.  Further, her behaviour corrupted the youth of the down.  She was considered evil.  The charge of witchcraft was soon to follow.

For the times, Briget was a fashion diva.  Her dresses were considered scandalous and it contributed greatly to her conviction.  She usually wore a black cap or a black hat, and a gown with a red paragon bodice bordered and looped with different colors.  Not only did her form of dress incite rumours and spite, it was used as evidence against her in hertrial.  The town dyer gave evidence that she brought him "sundry pieces of lace" outside of the wardrobe of a plain and honest woman.  his dye house "sundry pieces of lace" of shapes and dimensions entirely outside his conceptions of what would be needed in the wardrobe of a plain and honest woman.

After being cleared of witchcraft and being thrown in jail for publically andv violently quarelling with her husbands on previous occasions, another warrant was issued for her arrest on April 18, 1692.  To Bridget's shock, she had never before seen or met any of her accusers.  Her trial was complete with several girls who scremed out in pain caused by her witchcraft.  Here are some of the actual questions posed to her: 

Q: Bishop, what do you say? You stand here charged with sundry acts of witchcraft by you done or committed upon the bodies of Mercy Lewis and Ann Putman and others.

A: I am innocent, I know nothing of it, I have done no witchcraft .... I am as innocent as the child unborn. ....

Q: Goody Bishop, what contact have you made with the Devil?

A: I have made no contact with the Devil. I have never seen him before in my life.

Poor Bridget, even her sister's husband accused her of consorting with the devil.  With the entire town of Salem accusing her, any hope of successfully defeating the charges faded.  It took only 8 days to charge her, conduct a trial, and execute her.  On June 10, before a large crowd, she was transported to Gallows Hill and executed by the town sheriff.  In the seconds before her hanging, she displayed no remorse and continued to profess her innocence.

Numerous other so called witches were executed right after Briget.  Less than a year after her death, her husband married one of her accusers and several others confessed the Devil caused them to accuse her.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Love Story of Romeo and Juliette

Romeo and Juliet is an enduring tragic love story written by William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. Shakespeare borrowed his plot from an original Italian tale.  It is believed Romeo and Juliette were based on actual characters from Verona. 
The Montague and Capulet families are feuding.  The Prince of Verona intervenes and declares that any further fighting will be punishable by death.

 When the Count of Paris approaches Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter, Juliet, he is wary of the request because she is only thirteen.  Capulet asks the Count of Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a ball.  Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse urge Juliet to accept Paris' courtship.

In the Montague house, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Lord Montague's son, about Romeo's recent melancholy.  Benvolio discovers Romeo's unrequited infatuation for a girl named Rosaline, a niece of Lord Capulet's nieces.  Persuaded by Benvolio Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline.  But it is not Rosaline who sweeps him off his feet - it is the fair Juliette.


After the ball, Romeo sneaks into the Capulet courtyard and overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred for his family.  Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married.

Juliet's Balcony in Verona

With the help of a friar, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day.

Juliet's cousin Tybalt, incensed that Romeo had crashed the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel.  Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight.  Romeo's friend, Mercutio is offended by Tybalt's insolence, as well as Romeo's "vile submission" and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf.  Mercutio is fatally wounded when Romeo attempts to break up the fight.  Grief-stricken and wracked with guilt, Romeo confronts and slays Tybalt.

Montague argues that Romeo has justly fought and killed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio.  The Prince exiles Romeo from Verona and declares that if Romeo returns, he will be executed.  

Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they make love for the first and last time, consummating their marriage.  In the morning, he prepares to leave and kisses her one last time.  

 Lord Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses.  Juliette pleads for the marriage to be delayed, but her mother rejects her.

Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a drug that will put her into a death-like coma for forty-two hours.  The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens.  On the night before her wedding to the Count, Juliet takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.
The messenger, however, failed to reach Romeo and, instead, he learned of Juliet's apparent demise from his servant.  Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt.  There, he encounters Count Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately.

Believing Romeo to be a vandal, Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris.  Still believing Juliet to be dead, Romeo drinks the poison.

Juliet then awakens only to find her beloved Romeo dead.  Unwilling to live without him, she stabs herself with his dagger. 

The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead.  The Friar recounts their story.  The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud.


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