NAGORO, JAPAN – CITY OF LOST DOLLS?

A while ago I was watching Tokidoki, a television program by the Dutch comedian and writer, Paulien Cornelisse  travelling through Japan. In one of the episodes she spoke about a small village, called Nagoro, a place found on Shikoku Island, the smallest of the country’s four main islands. With in this village a strange place, called “The Valley Of Dolls’.

AYANO TSUKIMI

Over the years, the people who lived in Nagoro have left for jobs in Osaka and Tokyo or they’ve died. And because of it’s very remote location and with not even a local store, there’s little reason for immigration. Now there are only a few dozen people left, like Ayano Tsukimi.

The 64-year-old returned to her hometown 11 years ago. In the decade since, she brought back ‘life” in Nagoru with an army of handmade dolls each representing a former villager or based on those who have left. She even included enough children, teachers and staff to fill the abandoned local school.

 

In a new documentary, “The Valley Of Dolls,” Tsukimi shares her world with Berlin-based filmmaker Fritz Schumann. She explains that she started by planting seeds in the emptying village. When the plants didn’t take, she thought she needed a scarecrow. She fashioned one to look like her father, and from there came the idea to recreate all of the people who once lived in the village.

Partly, this was to draw in outsiders. “I thought people will get interested and take photos if I put dolls at the entrance of the valley. I put them on the field doing work, or waiting for the bus,” Tsukimi says.

In this documentary you will see long shots of the dolls looking perfectly natural in their surroundings. Tsukimi is the only voice heard, and her thoughtful musings tackle questions of mortality, urbanization, and the loneliness of human existence.

Tsukimi explains that she isn’t interested in making “strange, unrealistic” dolls. Hers are meant to blend into the scenery as their real life versions would have. She makes them from straw, rags and old clothes, and has turned over some 350 dolls by her count. While the faces are the hardest to get right, she says.

She’s clearly succeeded in attracting some attention. Last year, an Australian newspaper interviewed Ken Osetroff, the director of a travel company that includes Nagoru in a tour package of autumnal Japan, because of the dolls.

Osetroff says the village can’t be found on a map: “It’s one of those places that’s very difficult to get to, and we’re predicting in the next four years it will be abandoned, as everyone’s moving away or dying.”

Even the dolls don’t last longer than three years, according to Tsukimi. She keeps a large number in play by creating new ones constantly. Surrounded as she is by still looking faces, she doesn’t think of herself aging or ever stopping. At one point in the documentary, considering her own mortality, she chuckles. “I’ll probably live on forever,” she says.

All images copyright Fritz Schumann/The Verge.

This whole story has a sort of…sadness over it. But is that true? I’m amazed by her commitment and touched by her perspective of life. But she doesn’t sound sad? Maybe she found the ultimate key to a very peaceful and tranquil life, she actually made herself immortal.

☽ Lielo

 

THE CRYING BOY

I think everyone had seen this strange painting at least once in their live. In cafes or at the wall of your grandma’s house. The famous painting of The Crying Boy. Turns out, this painting holds more obscure stories then you would think…

WHO IS THIS BOY?

The Crying Boy is a mass-produced print of a painting by Italian painter Giovanni Bragolin. It was widely distributed from the 1950s onwards.

GIOVANNI BRAGOLIN

‘The Crying Boy’ was one of a series of paintings by artist Giovanni Bragolin completed in the 1950s. The series depicted young teary-eyed children. While it may seem strange to want an image of a weeping child on your wall, the pictures proved popular all over the world. In the UK alone over 50,000 copies sold. The children represented were often poor and very beautiful. One boy’s image particularly tugs on the heartstrings, his eyes a sad reflection of his soul. He became known as ‘The Crying Boy’. In total Bragolin painted over sixty paintings and up until the early eighties the prints and reprints of his images, continued to be mass produced.

  

Click on photos for a bigger preview.

THE CURSE OF BLAZING FIRE

In 1985 the most popular tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom, printed a story that was to cause panic and end the popularity of Bragolin’s work. ‘The Sun’ published an article entitled ‘Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy’. The story described the terrible experience of May and Ron Hall after their Rotherham home was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire, much like my grandmother’s, was a chip pan that overheated and burst into flames. The fire spread rapidly and destroyed everything on the ground floor. Only one item remained intact, a print of ‘The Crying Boy’ on their living room wall. Distraught at their loss, the devastated couple made the bizarre claim that the painting was cursed and it, not the chip pan, was the cause of the fire.

Other stories that go around are;

• A lady in Surrey lost her house to fire 6 months after buying the painting.

• Two sisters in Kilburn had fires in their homes after buying a copy of the painting. One sister even claimed to have seen her painting sway backwards and forwards on the wall.

• A concerned lady on the Isle of Wight attempted to burn her painting without success and then went on to suffer a run of bad luck.

• A gentleman in Nottingham lost his home and his family were injured.

• A pizza parlor in Norfolk was destroyed including every painting on its wall except for one.

When ‘The Sun’ reported that even rational firefighters refused to have a copy of ‘The Crying Boy ‘ in their homes, the reputation of the painting was damned forever.

 

THE TRUE STORY

There are several stories behind the legend of the painting itself. One states that the models for the various crying boys were orphans who, soon after the paintings were completed, died in a orphanage fire.

Bruno Amadio, also known as Bragolin, had fled to Spain soon after the end of World War Two. Here Amadio met a young boy named Don Bonillo, a mute orphan who had seen his parents perish in a house fire during the war. 

Amadio soon adopted the boy, although he was warned off of doing so by a local priest, the boy being the centre of many mysterious fires that broke out wherever he went. The boy was known locally as the devil child.

 Amadio refused to believe such stories, and the new family did well, Amadios paintings were selling well, and the two were living easy.

 Unfortunately, one day Amadio found that his house and studio had burned to the ground. Remembering the priest’s warnings, he immediately blamed Don and kicked him out of the family.

Don Bonillo was not heard from again until 1976, and surrounding another bizarre event.

Just outside of Barcelona a car smashed into a wall and burst into flames. The driver was killed and was so horrifically burned; he was not able to be identified. However, upon investigation back at the police yard, the glove compartment was pried open. There, among burned items, was an untouched driver’s license. The name on the license was Don Bonillo. 

It is said all of Amadio’s paintings of crying boys were cursed by the memory of Don Bonillo. 

Unfortunately, all of the facts of this story can not be 100% confirmed.

Bruno Amadio, the painter, died in 1981, the truth of this story has also gone with him.

 Then of course it could just be coincidence, many houses had ‘Crying Boys’ adorning their walls, people begin to see the easily recognisable image in the remains and a new urban legend comes to light.

So would you dare to hang this painting in your house if you can get your hands on one in the second hand store?

☽ Lielo

 

THE MYSTERIOUS DODECAHEDRON

I have this thing with geometrical shapes (just like I have with black birds, unusual places and writing about weird stories…) I was looking for a new subject to write about and I was wondering if I could maybe find some strange facts about…geometrical shapes. And so there are!

ROMAN DODECAHEDRON

It’s a small, mysterious looking, hollow object made of bronze or stone, with a dodecahedral shape: twelve flat pentagonal faces, each face having a circular hole of varying diameter in the middle, the holes connecting to the hollow center. Roman dodecahedra date from the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD.

About a hundred of these dodecahedra have been found from Wales to Hungary and Spain and to the east of Italy, with most found in Germany and France. Ranging from 4 to 11 centimetres (1.6 to 4.3 in) in size, they also vary in terms of textures. Most are made of bronze but some are made of stone. A Roman icosahedron has also come to light after having long been misclassified as a dodecahedron. This icosahedron was excavated near Arloff in Germany and is currently on display in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn.

FUNCTION:

We have an indication of what it could be of many archaeological objects. The discovery site, the appearance of the object on a current object, images of the object on early paintings / sculptures, descriptions of objects in books from that period, the testing of a replica, research into possible old traces of use; all this gives archaeologists a strong suspicion or proof for which or for which activities certain objects must be used.

The dodecahedron is an exception.

The name dodecahedron refers to the shape of the object, a figure with twelve pentagonal planes of equal dimensions, together they form a sphere. The size of dodecahedrons varies per specimen, the smallest is 4 centimeters and the largest 8.5 centimeters. The objects are made of bronze, the inside is hollow and in the center of the pentagonal plates there is a hole, in most cases of different sizes.

Dodecahedrons are decorated with balls on the corners, in addition most have a decoration of notches: grooves around the openings and circles or astronomical symbols in the corners of the surfaces.The objects are manufactured by means of the so-called ‘lost wax technique’. With this technique, a model of wax has to be made. This model is then covered with clay, with pouring and venting channels being kept free. The clay is baked, the heat melts the wax and drips out of the mold. The resulting cavity is filled with liquid bronze. When the bronze is hardened, the clay is smashed and the object is left in bronze. The balls on the corners of the dodecahedron are placed on the object after this process.

A MYSTERY

There are no images on which, nor writings in which the use and function of dodecahedrons are described. They are found at various locations and use-wear research is difficult because they have very small common ground. The only option that still remains is to devise uses and then use these to test using a replica.

There are many hypotheses about the use of the dodecahedronMany of these hypotheses are suggested but not tested, according to the many impossible theories. In addition, many theories are tested on a single specimen and then no account is taken of the fact that there are many different types of dodecahedronsIn general, we can divide the proposed theories into three groups:

– Object with a practical function. Examples in this category are candle holders, scepter buttons, weapon buttons, dice, children’s toys and measuring instruments for all kinds of things.

– Object with a religious, magical or divine function or even fortune telling devices. These theories find their basis in Greek antiquity. Plato (427-347 BC) linked the five geometrical figures to elements: pyramid stands for fire, cube for earth, octahedron (an octahedron) for air, icosahedron (twenty-plane) for water and the dodecahedron for ether. Ether is a substance that permeates everything else and is therefore associated with the universe. The dodecahedron would be a symbol for this and thus symbolize the sacred geometry (it is assumed that everything – from flower, to body and universe – is constructed in the same way).

– The most thoughtful theory (from G. M. C. Wagemans) sees the dodecahedron as an astronomical measuring instrument, with which, based on the position of the sun at the highest point of the day, the exact sowing date for winter grain can be determined. The object must then be placed on a flat surface in a certain relation to the sun, so that the sunlight shines through two holes of the object and a light surface appears on the underlying surface or not. The object is then rotated so that the light shines through another plane, this is done for all twenty planes. The appearance of a light spot differs per hole size and per day. The closer we get to the exact sowing date, the more often the light spot shines through holes. The perfect sowing date is therefore the day on which the light spot is visible in all measurements.

So in the end, there is no clear answer on what the function is of this mysterious object. But hey! At least it looks cool!
☽ Lielo

9/11 SUR(VIVOR)FER

Last week my dad told me an unusual story about the so called 9/11 survivor. And because today it’s 9/11, I thought it was a good idea to mention this positive, unusual story on a day that shocked the world, already 16! (can you imagine?!) years ago.

People consider him “the world’s luckiest man”. Because he was one of the people who survived 9/11, in a very, very unusual way.

Pasquale Buzzelli (43), told that he had avoided speaking publicly until now because he found it hard to talk about his experiences and felt “survivor guilt” after losing 14 colleagues in the tragedy.

In the aftermath of 9/11, there were reports that one man had survived the collapse of the North Tower by “surfing” down the falling building, through a blizzard of debris.

However, the man was never traced and the story was dismissed as the stuff of legend.

Now documentary-makers have tracked down Pasquale Buzzelli and gained expert testimony from rescuers, engineers, and eyewitnesses to piece together his story.

9/11

Close to 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, after 4 hijacked passenger planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The deaths included at least 200 of those at the Twin Towers who fell or jumped to their deaths.

Buzzelli was in a lift in the North Tower when the first plane hit it between the 93rd and 99th floors, he said.

When the lift stopped, on floor 44, he saw scenes of panic, but the structural engineer who worked for the New York Port Authority continued to his own office on the 64th floor. His wife Louise, then seven months’ pregnant told how her husband telephoned her, and asked her to switch on the television to find out what was going on. She saw that the plane had hit his building, which was alight.

Then Buzzelli and colleagues clustered around a television to see a second plane hit the neighbouring tower. He and colleagues began to make their escape, but by the time he reached the 22nd floor the building began to collapse. Watching the scenes on television, his wife was sure that her husband was dead.

However, as the walls around him began to crumble, Buzzelli began to free-fall, he said.

“I’ve never jumped out of a plane but I guess I was experiencing that feeling of surfing down, just riding the air and getting buffered around, as if I was on a rollercoaster,” he said.

After experiencing a bright flash, he fell unconscious, to awake three hours later, lying on a ledge of the ruins seven floors up. Despite falling 15 floors, he had only suffered a broken leg and a crushed ankle.

Buzzelli did not speak publicly about what had happened but he and his wife kept a diary for their two children.

He said: “I lost 14 colleagues who were with me when the tower collapsed. They were the last people I saw, then they were gone. They were the victims and I was the survivor. So I had a sense of guilt. I just wanted to pretend it didn’t happen.”

Documentary-makers met the firemen who rescued him, and scientists and engineers who said the account was plausible.

Prof Thomas Eagar, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the winds from the falling towers were strong enough to lift a man into the air.

However, medical examiner Shiya Ribowsky, who helped lead the forensic investigation into 9/11 was less convinced, saying the chance of surviving a fall beyond five floors are “pretty grim”.

It’s a very strange and unusual story, but this man is still very much alive, so one way or the other, I guess we can just say he was…extremely lucky?

☽ Lielo

 

LONELY TOWER

Today a story about something not specifically scary…but definitely quite…strange in a way…is the story of the tower in Lake Reschen.

Reschensee Bell Tower is a medieval tower that stands in the middle of the Reschensee Lake, close to the Swiss and Austrian borders, in South Tyrol, Italy. The Bell Tower was part of a church dating back from 14th century, and as many villages enjoyed anonymity and had a very peaceful life throughout the history.

The story of the village of Graun, in which the church and the bell tower were located, was the same up until 1930’s when there were plans to build an artificial dam, so that there will be a better and increased electricity production in the region. The first plans of the construction were in 1939, where it was publicly announced that the villages of Graun and Reschen would be completely and, respectively, partially flooded.

Even though there was a resistance from the local population, the construction began in 1940 which took a decade to be completed. In the aftermath, the 22 m (72 ft) deep lake, two natural lakes, Reschensee and Mittersee, were unified into one and in total 163 homes were sunk below the rising waters.

Before the water reached the villages, most of the buildings were demolished and the bells taken from the church tower, nonetheless, the bell tower was left to bear witness that once there stood a small community.

Montecatini, the company that built the dam, gave the families small amount of money for their homes, where some of them moved away, and some chose to stay and build a new life in Upper Graun where they still live today. As one of the most known landmarks of Italy.

MYSTERIOUS BELLS

In winter too, when the lake is freezing, some of them are walking on the ice to get as close as possible to the Bell Tower. The strange part of this story is that some locals said, that they can hear the bells from within the tower ringing on cold nights, even though they have been removed from the tower on July 18, 1950, a week before the demolition of the church nave and the creation of the lake.

Till today it’s still a mysterious looking place…it’s just a strange idea that years ago, people lived and worked here..I really, really wonder though why they decided not to break down the tower…As a haunting memory of a place which was once a cute, little nice village?

☽ Lielo

 

THE TATTOOED LADY

As a big admirer and collector of tattoo’s myself, I love to collect anything related to the history of tattooing. A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me the book called, The Tattooed Lady. A book with the full history of freak-shows and their tattooed ladies. The photo on the front of the book is one of my favorites. It portraits Artoria Gibbons (born on 16 July 1893, Anna Mae Burlingston in Linwood, Wisconsin)

ARTORIA GIBBONS

Artoria Gibbons, a tattooed lady, with an intriguing story. The story goes that she had married a terribly jealous older husband, who tattooed every inch of her so that no one else would find his young bride his attractive. Yet nothing could have been farther from the truth, as Artoria had willingly chosen the profession as a way of earning a better living for her and her husband.

Artoria was born Anna Mae Burlingston, of Portage County Wisconsin in 1893. She was the daughter of the Norwegian immigrant and farmer Gunder Huseland, who at the time went by the name Frank Burlingston, and his wife Amma Mabel Mason. When she was fourteen, her family moved to the state of Wisconsin, where tragedy struck quickly when her father died of Typhoid. She soon moved to Spokane to make her own living, so as not to be a burden to the rest of her family. It was in Spokane that she’d meet her husband, a known tattoo artist named Charles “Red” Gibbons in Spokane, at a department store café (Anna was so poor at the time she couldn’t even afford to eat there, she was merely enjoying a cold beverage). They would get married in 1912, and eventually move to California. Unlike the story of the jealous husband who tattooed his bride forcibly, Charles did nothing of the sort, though he was indeed a tattoo artist. It would be Anna that would choose the life of the tattooed lady, in order to bring in a greater income for the couple. For the life of the tattooed performer was far better paying than any other job available to most women at that time.

Charles “Red” Gibbons was one of the best tattooists of his generation. There is no better example of his skill than his beautiful wife Artoria. Carrying on in the grand tradition that goes back to the 1800’s, a tattooist would tattoo his wife thus making her his calling card for his tattooing ability.

Anna took the stage name of Artoria Gibbons, and would soon cover herself in all manner of tattoos inspired by classic art. The Last Supper graced her upper back, and partial reproductions of Botticelli’s Annunciation and Michelangelo’s Holy Family would join it. An image of the Madonna was on one thigh, with the Child upon the other. Front and center upon her chest stood George Washington, flanked by American flags, above a schooner in full sail upon her stomach.

“My husband done everyone of them,” she said proudly in an interview. “They’re all masterpieces. He was crazy ’bout eyetalian painters.”

The job of a tattooed lady was one of mixed regard, it was all too easy for her to be judged as scandalous for her job required her to appear with much of her skin exposed. It would be a lie to call her imprudent, however, as in her personal life Anna was modest and even considered demure. Yet this was the life she chose, and she would continue that life for years. She’d temporarily retire from the business in the 40s to take care of her ailing husband, who had gone blind due to getting beat up during a brutal robbery on his way home from work in 1941 and a construction accident in 1946.  Red Gibbons died on June 18, 1964.

She’d return to the work of the tattooed lady in the 70s, until she was forced to retire in 1981 at the age of 89. She’d worked for the Ringling Bros, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Sideshow, amongst numerous sideshows and dime museums. Until she saw a Billboard advertisement seeking a tattooed lady for the Dell-Travers Ten–In-One Show. She got the job and spent several more years on the road, later working for Ward Hall. Artoria died on March 18, 1985.

 

It’s good to know how awesome you will look when you are tattooed and turn 86 years old! Well the only thing I still need to do now is….write myself in for a freak-show!

☽ Lielo

MAKE DEAD THINGS SPARKLE – TYLER TRASHER

My best friend pointed me yesterday this awesome artist, named Tyler Trasher. As a crystal and bug enthusiast this for me is the best of both worlds!

TYLER TRASHER

You can call him an artist alchemist, an adventurer, caver, illustrator, animator, electronic music producer, and the list keeps going. This 25 year old multitalented creator from Tulsa, Oklahoma, began his scientific and artistic experimentation at a young age, and over the years has crafted his own artistic identity with a respect and adoration to the dead animals and insects that inspire him. He says he aims to utilize the principles of chemistry as an artistic medium, using various compounds and solutions to yield crystal growth and finds interesting ways to produce solid metals as well.

Inspired by adventure and the outdoors, Tyler is constantly exploring cavernous environments and cave systems, while hiking and discovering new beauties in nature. Dedicated to his craft, he works as a full time artist, and values his discipline to create at least one piece every single day.

His art can be described as macabre and sublime, involving the relics of dead animals such as bones, skulls, and whole bodies for insects. Though he is not actually a taxidermist himself, his taxidermy-inspired creations pay homage to the life of the creatures he uses in a similar way to taxidermy.

Tyler is constantly experimenting with chemistry and materials, while staying within his artistic style. Tyler also creates drawings and paintings, but his crystallized creations are the most evocative and enchanting pieces he creates.

Tyler has shown in galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Tulsa, and has been a guest artist for many crystal and jewelry-based companies across the globe. Interestingly, this includes his most recent guest spot for San Diego-based The Earth’s Gems, where he is currently guest posting on socials and giving away original works of captivating art in contests for a limited period of time.

MAKING CRYSTALS

Tyler Thrasher’s trajectory in life took a sharp turn after a chance observation in a gem store  couple of years ago. Looking through a pile of minerals with his fiancé, he happened to glance at the tag on a bright blue crystal called chalcanthite (CuSO4·5H2O). “The tag said, ‘Grown in a lab in Poland,’  At that moment the idea of start growing crystals himself was there.

His first few attempts failed. “I did some Googling, ordered some chemicals, dissolved them in water, and waited. Nothing happened,” Thrasher says. Then he figured out just how supersaturated the solution had to be before crystals would seed and grow. In the meantime, it was cicada season in Tulsa, where he lives.

“There were a lot of cicada shells lying around outside, and I wondered if I could grow crystals on something so delicate. Crystals actually grew through a hole in the back of a cicada shell, flowered right out of it,” he says.

Thrasher had discovered his artistic technique, which he describes as “growing crystals on dead things.” His portfolio is a combination of sparkle and the macabre: Thrasher has cultivated crystals on everything from snake skeletons to dried butterflies.

“I initially thought I was just going to grow crystals for fun, to appease the chemistry side of my brain,” Thrasher says. Although he enjoyed taking advanced-level chemistry in high school, he studied computer animation at college. His crystal experiments began earlier this year, around the time Thrasher was getting ready to graduate.

His crystal art career took off, thanks to interest in his work on social media. He’s got more than 33,000 followers on Instagram. The social media popularity garnered him enough orders from clients to make the crystal art a full-time job. “I’m incredibly blessed. It happened out of nowhere—just over the past six months.”

“It’s pretty weird explaining to my neighbors what I do,” he says. “When they ask how I make a living, I typically say, ‘I’m just going to have to show you. If I tell you, you’re just going to think I’m a weird-ass.’ ”

Thrasher collects his crystal skeleton scaffolds while hiking, or he buys them at curiosity shops or online. Fans of his work have also sent him rare finds, such as luna moths or unusual butterflies. “You can grow a ­crystal on literally anything,” he says, if not directly, then with a seed crystal. To make one of his crystal pieces, Thrasher typically submerges his deceased ­substrate into a supersaturated salt ­solution and lets it sit there for a few hours to about a week, depending on the type and size of crystal he wants to grow.

Thrasher says he’s somewhat of a chemical purist when it comes to what tints his crystals: He forgoes using dyes and food coloring. The hues in his artwork come from the strict crystallization of chemicals such as purple potassium chromium sulfate or bright green ammonium iron sulfate. He does sometimes dope transparent crystals, such as monoammonium phosphate, with chemicals like copper sulfate, to get a light blue hue, he says.

Thrasher has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to move his artwork production out of his apartment and into a lab. “Some of the stuff I want to mess with requires strong acids or bases—that’s not something I’m going to bring into my living space,” he says. “So I need a chemical supply closet to safely store chemicals.” He’d also like a ventilation hood to grow bismuth and other metal crystals. “Bismuth forms these M. C. Escher-like stair-step formations. I’d love to try working with that.”

Having a separate working space would also prevent visitors from getting creeped out by the alligator, deer, and raccoon skulls piled in the living room or the abundance of beakers full of dead beetles and scorpions on his bookshelves.

“It looks like the home of a mad scientist.”

To see more of his work -> http://www.tylerthrasher.com/

☽ Lielo

MBAH MARIDJAN – DEDICATION

Today a story suddenly popped up in my head that I think is interesting enough to mention…

7 years ago when I was still living in Indonesia, the volcano Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta erupted. I was actually around 5 kilometers away from it when it happened. The days after, a whole city covered in ashes. 353 people were killed during the eruptions, many as a result of pyroclastic flows. The ash plumes from the volcano also caused major disruption to aviation across Java.

But the day after something appeared on the news…something that in my opinion is all about true, deep, dedication.

MBAH MARIDJAN

Mas Penewu Surakso Hargo, better known as Mbah Maridjan (“Grandfather Maridjan”) (5 February 1927?  – 26 October 2010) was the spiritual guardian or “gatekeeper” of the Indonesian volcano Mount Merapi. His birthplace was in the mountainside hamlet (Javanese language-dukuh) of KinahrejoUmbulharjo Village, Cangkringan District, of the Sleman Regency, on the island of Java in Indonesia.

He was killed at the age of 83 by a pyroclastic flow that destroyed his home in the village of Kinahrejo during the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi.

GATEKEEPER

Maridjan was the son of the previous guardian, Mbah Hargo. He was appointed to the palace staff of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, in 1970 and was given the title of Raden Ngabehi Surokso Hargo. He replaced his father as guardian in 1982.

The spiritual guardian of the mountain is believed by local people to have the power to speak to the spirits of Mount Merapi, which the Javanese consider to be a sacred mountain. Maridjan led ceremonies to appease the spirits of the volcano by presenting them with offerings of rice and flowers in and around the crater. One of his most important duties was the performance of the annual Labuhan sacrificial ceremony dedicated to the spirits of Mount Merapi. A procession from the royal palace on Yogjakarta led by the guardian sacrifices to the volcano spirits a set of ritual offerings including textiles, perfume, incense, money and, every eight years, a horse saddle. He described his job, for which he was paid $1 a month, as being “to stop lava from flowing down. Let the volcano breathe, but not cough.”

Maridjan was known for his dedication and loyalty to the king and became an Indonesian icon. He lived only about 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from the peak in his home village of Kinahrejo. Many villagers believed that he would be warned in a vision if an eruption was imminent. In May 2006, he refused to leave his village despite a mandatory evacuation order after scientists warned of an imminent eruption. He went with fifty other men to the village mosque when the volcano began to erupt. Following his example, a hundred other families also refused to evacuate.[7] He was badly burned in a subsequent blast and spent five months in hospital after being rescued from his collapsed house. He became a popular hero because of his refusal to leave his village and his insistence that it was his duty to discharge his responsibility for the welfare of the people. He said that “the people of Kinahrejo feel that it was their destiny to be born to be a fortress to protect the welfare of the kraton (royal palace) and the people of Mataram (central Java).” During an interview in 2006, he said, “Everybody has their duty. Reporter, soldier, police, they have their duty. I also have a duty to stand here”.

THE ERUPTION AND HIS DEATH

Maridjan again refused to evacuate prior to the 26 October eruption in 2010, telling a friend that he could not leave because he had a responsibility, and that because “my time to die in this place has almost come, I can’t leave.” Thirteen other people, who were in his home trying to persuade him to leave, were killed along with him when his house was hit by a pyroclastic flow.

Only the mosque in his village was left standing. Maridjan’s body was found in a praying position; he was thought to have been killed instantly by the 1,000-degree Celsius cloud of gas and ash.

The Yogyakarta Palace subsequently confirmed his death. Gusti Prabukusumo, the brother of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, said that they had “known long before it happened that Mbah Maridjan would be taken by Merapi. Now that he’s gone, we have to choose a new gatekeeper soon”.

☽ Lielo

POLISH PAINTER WHO PAINTED HIS DREAMS (OR NIGHTMARES..?)

After hanging out with a close friend of mine from Poland in the last 2 weeks, I started thinking if I could maybe find some cool, strange or mysterious stories from Poland, that are interesting to post on my blog. And I suddenly remembered that a while ago I saved the link to a website from a known Polish painter who used to repaint his dreams…or maybe better called…his nightmares…?

Zdzisław Beksiński (pronounced [ˈzd͡ʑiswaf bɛkˈɕiɲskʲi]; 24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005) was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism. Beksiński did his paintings and drawings in what he called either a ‘Baroque’ or a ‘Gothic’ manner. His creations were made mainly in two periods. The first period of work is generally considered to contain expressionistic color, with a strong style of “utopian realism” and surreal architecture, like a doomsday scenario. The second period contained more abstract style, with the main features of formalism.

Let us take you on a journey through the curious mind of Zdzisław Beksiński, who made a name for himself with his dystopian surrealism paintings, filled with post-apocalyptic imagery and nightmarish creatures.

“I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams.” he said. And that is exactly what we can see in his paintings. Recognizable everyday objects, arranged in ways you can only imagine in your dreams.

These unseen combinations gave birth to mind-bending sceneries, which give you a bit of an anxious feeling while looking at them. The artwork is quite abstract, yet it does have the power to invoke real world references, which makes it even creepier. Beksiński said “What matters is what appears in your soul, not what your eyes see and what you can name.”

Although Beksiński’s art was often grim, he himself was known to be a pleasant person who took enjoyment from conversation and had a keen sense of humor. He was modest and somewhat shy, avoiding public events such as the openings of his own exhibitions. He credited music as his main source of inspiration. He claimed not to be much influenced by literature, cinema or the work of other artists, and almost never visited museums or exhibitions.

Beksiński avoided concrete analysis of the content of his work, saying “I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting”. He was especially dismissive of those who sought or offered simple answers to what his work ‘meant’.

FAMILY TRAGEDIES AND DEATH

The late 1990s were a very tragic time for Beksiński. His wife, Zofia, died in 1998; a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz (a popular radio presenter, music journalist, aficionado of gothic rock, and movie translator) committed suicide. Beksiński discovered his son’s body. Unable to come to terms with his son’s death, he kept an envelope “For Tomek in case I kick the bucket” pinned to his wall.

On 21 February 2005, Beksiński was found dead in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body; two of the wounds were determined to have been fatal. Robert Kupiec, the teenage son of his longtime caretaker, and a friend were arrested shortly after the crime. On 9 November 2006 Robert Kupiec was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and his accomplice, Łukasz Kupiec, to 5 years by the court of Warsaw. Before his death, Beksiński had refused to loan Robert Kupiec a few hundred złoty (approximately $100 USD).

Many have been inspired by Beksiński’s art. In Poland his works influenced many rock musicians, and lately the creators of the point and click adventure video game Tormentum. The noted Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro, who directed the Oscar-winning film Pan’s Labyrinth, is a known admirer of Beksiński’s works. A Polish film focusing on the family’s life after 1977, entitled Ostatnia Rodzina / The Last Family came out in 2016.

 

☽ Lielo