This fellow is from one of Singapore‘s more unusual attractions – the Haw Par Villa theme park, also called Tiger Balm Gardens. Originally built in the 1930s by the creators of Tiger Balm to showcase Chinese folklore and mythology, the park is known for its bizarre and gruesome Ten Courts of Hell with such creepy statues and dioramas as a human-faced crab and bloody dismembered torsos (apparently it all makes sense if you know your Chinese mythology). It’s been relatively deserted in recent years, making it all the more bizarre. You can see more photos of the park in Flickr user SingaPaulie‘s photostream. The MRT metro line was extended this fall and you can now ride the Circle Line train to the park.
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love is a new exhibition examining one of the most popular ancient goddesses and her place in the Classical world. More than 150 ancient works of art are on display, including famous pieces such as the Knidia, a life-size sculpture of Aphrodite made by the 4th-century BC Greek artist, Praxiteles. Another interesting piece is the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, a reclining figure who from one side looks like a voluptuous woman, and from the other like a man.
The exhibition traces Aphrodite’s sexy origins in the Near East and the place of her cult in Greek and Roman society. Aphrodite was a Greek goddess who was adopted into the Roman pantheon as Venus. She was the symbol of romantic love and ideal beauty. She also oversaw marriage, an odd choice since many of the myths surrounding her involve her cheating on her husband, the blacksmith god Hephaistos (Vulcan). Men worshiped her because she aroused male virility.
Being in charge of such important aspects of life made Aphrodite extremely popular. She was the patron goddess of Pompeii. Interestingly, Ramsay MacMullen in his Paganism in the Roman Empire points out that altars in private homes in Pompeii were more often dedicated to Foruna, Vesta, and Bacchus than Aphrodite. Perhaps because love received so much public worship, people felt they needed to give good luck, the home, and drinking some attention. They can be related, after all!
McMullen’s book (which I highly recommend) also touches on various ways the Romans worshipped Venus, including picnicking in the orchards around her sanctuary in Cnidus, and wild processions where a woman playing Venus led a string of dancing children playing Cupid. She and the other deities were very much part of daily life.
The exhibition also looks at related figures of Classical mythology, such as Aphrodite’s sons Eros (Cupid), the well-endowed Priapus, and Hermaphrodite.
If you want to meet this lovely lady and her interesting offspring, you better hurry. Aphrodite and the Gods of Love is only on until February 20, 2012.
Top photo: Fresco of The Judgment of Paris, Roman, Imperial Period, 45–79 A.D. Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei. Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. © www.pedicinimages.com. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
It’s one of the most famous symbols of ancient Rome–the legendary Romulus and Remus suckling from a she-wolf. Legend has it the brothers were born to a Vestal Virgin who had been abducted by the war god Mars. Abandoned, they were raised by a she-wolf. As adults they fought each other. Romulus killed Remus and went on to build Rome. The statue graces Rome’s Capitoline Museum and is photographed by tens of thousands of visitors every year.
But it may date from centuries after Rome fell.
In fact, it may date from the Middle Ages. The bronze wolf has long thought to be Etruscan, an ancient Italian culture that predated the Romans. Modern carbon dating shows it wasn’t made in the 5th century BC but rather the 13th century AD. The babies are known to have been added in the 15th century. The tests on the wolf were conducted five years ago and were shrugged off by the Capitoline Museum as inconclusive.
Now scholars are saying the museum was wrong to dismiss the results and have pointed out that the statue was cast as a single piece, something the Etruscans and Romans couldn’t do with a statue so large. Medieval artisans could. It’s possible the present statue was a copy produced from an earlier statue that was, indeed Etruscan. It’s impossible to say.
The museum is adding this “alternate theory” to its literature, although that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on the Etruscan theory just yet.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Egyptian police have recovered four stolen statues, two of which were taken from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, Ahram Online reported.
Two of the statues were among several items that went missing when rioters broke into the Egyptian Museum. The other two were apparently looted from somewhere else, perhaps an archaeological site. There were scattered incidents of looting from several museums and archaeological sites across the country during the January Revolution, and the extent of the thefts remains unclear.
The statues are all of bronze and depict important gods such as Osiris, god of the afterlife, pictured here in an image courtesy of user Rama via Wikimedia Commons. This is not one of the recovered statues.
The statues date to the Late Period, a period dating from 664 BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This era saw a final flowering of Egyptian art and religion before it went through a long period of domination and decline under Greeks and Roman rule. When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, poor old gods like Osiris were slowly forgotten.
The thieves possessing the ancient art were arrested. Of the 54 objects missing from the museum, 23 have been recovered.
An accident this weekend involving a Seattle taxi has left the city’s iconic Rachel the Pig statue and local residents squealing in protest. Seattle’s KING-TV reports that a collision between the taxi and another driver at the famous Pike Place Market knocked the famous 550 pound statue off its base.
The statue, which serves as the Market’s unofficial mascot, was installed in 1986. “Rachel” functions as real piggy bank, collecting loose change from tourists and locals visiting the famous market. The $6,000-9,000 earned from donations each year are used to support social services programs in Seattle.
Though the statue sustained minor scratch damage in the crash, it should be repaired within the next few days. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for one of Seattle’s most famous pigs.
[Flickr photo courtesy of Loren Javier]