Friday, February 1, 2013

5 Things - The Blue & Burials (Again!) Edition

This edition of 5 things has me thinking blue, very blue. And also about bodies (again).

Prepare for the magic, people.

1. An absolutely beautiful piece of writing from a blogger I have only recently started following.

A series of paragraphs ruminating on  the realities of being committed to and in love with someone who is bipolar, the way that marriage can change both of you long-term, and the Japanese concept of wabi sabi; finding the beauty in the chipped, frayed, and worn down. It is finding the sublime nature of imperfect life.

It's a piece exploring the way history builds between two people who have chosen to spend their lives together over time, that way that lifetime commitment shapes us at the same time we are shaping it.

2. This turquoise necklace from Erin Graves over at SPARKLEFARM on etsy. A beautiful set of colors; the turquoise and the brass color of the settings and the chain.

This is a white-shirt-and-jeans, let the necklace do the talking kind of necklace.

I dream.

My birthday is coming up... maybe I should buy myself a present.

Or start leaving really obvious hints around the house.

Like a big note that says "BUY ME THIS FOR MY BIRTHDAY OR ELSE". I might even leave a link or something to let him know what "this" is? Or I might just keep things mysterious and refuse to elaborate.

Or, you know, put it on the blog Jason totally reads, which I guess kind of gives it away.

I'm really bad at being mysterious.

3. On a related subject to one of my previous lists, we have the Pazyryk burials. The burials have been found in the Pazyryk Valley of Siberia. The kurgans, or tombs, are huge barrow-like earthen constructions. At some point many of these kurgans flooded, and the ice that froze inside never quite melted, allowing an incredible preservation of the bodies and goods inside.

Some of them have yielded really exciting stuff; above is a small section of skin from one of the discoveries, that of a muscular man who is believed to have been in his fifties when he died. Due to the ice and cold, dry climate, the man's tattoos can be seen and deciphered even though his body had somewhat deteriorated.

A different burial discovery, called the Ice Maiden, was of a young woman who was buried with full ceremonial trappings, including six horses slaughtered and buried with her in ceremonial harness. Her tattoos are also visible, and even her blond hair remains.They've even been able to pinpoint a rough location on where the silk of her clothing came from (not China, but more likely India).

The Pazyryk culture of the Iron Age was Scythian, horse-riding, nomadic, and deeply wealthy. They have found some beautiful cloth saddles, carved wooden figurines, and the oldest pile rug known to have ever existed. All of these things remain, beautifully preserved, to be found.

I am in love with discoveries like this; I have a hard time understanding how people are not interested in the history of the whole world, as the cultures that have come and gone in the time homo sapiens has been walking around on this planet are just... fascinating.

Each new thing I stumble upon renews how much I wish I had gone into archeology, that I had realized how interested I was in it a little earlier in my college career. On the other hand, my life may have taken a different path if I had, and I fairly well like where I am.

So... I suppose I'll keep diving headfirst into the internet to get my history fix.

4. This gorgeous coffee mug from Julia Dean over on etsy.

 It's a lovely perfect porcelain white on the outside, but the inside design is really where it shines. The teal-and-green makes me think of my friend Sarah, and her love of all things peacock colors. The spiral is beautiful, and one of my favorite things to see in artwork.

It's a large enough mug to eat a small bowl of soup out of, as well as hot chocolate or coffee or whatever your fix is.

Just... a lovely thing.

I am a fan of lovely things.

5. Speaking of lovely things...

The dala horse, or Dalecarlian horse. Originally sort of a handmade toy for children, now it shows up all over the place, as home decor, on purses, as paintings or prints to hang on the wall. It's considered something of a folk tradition.

They have a few really large dala-horse sculptures up in the northern Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota), where Swedish immigrants settled in higher numbers.

Hilariously, I have loved dala horses since I was a little kid. I was somewhat into the American Girl dolls. This was back when the "American Girl Dolls" consisted of something like four dolls, plus those baby dolls you could order to match your own hair, eye, and skin tones. Or something like that.

I promise this little tangent about American Girls is relevant.

One of the first American Girl dolls was Kirsten Larson, a Swedish immigrant to America. (This doll has been retired, because the American Girl company is silly and doesn't realize she and Felicity are the best dolls and oh god I am a grown woman talking about dolls on the internet. I will try to keep this brief.) I devoured the books and even owned Kirsten herself. They also released a bunch of "crafts just like (Insert Doll's Name Here) used to make!", which are actually pretty cool little books full of easy-for-kids crafts like painting a hatbox or making one of those funny little flip-toys where the bird is both in and out of the cage. Kirsten's book had a section on dala horses, where I was instantly in love but way too lazy to actually put the effort into asking my mom to get all the clay and paint required to make one.

Dala horses are still widely available, and artists and artisans have done some pretty cool things with them.

If you're thinking traditional, you can't go wrong with Grannas (where the above dala horse is available from). They have an English language version of their site, although the prices are all still in Swedish kronor.

Favorite iterations on the dala horse I've found on etsy are this print for your wall, this beautiful printed pillowcover, and this beautiful linen pouch.

Oh and this wonderful, awesome screenprint.


now you know way more than you ever thought you would about kurgans in Siberia, dala horses, and my love of blue things on the internet.

Enjoy that.

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