Monday 16 February 2009

An anthropological detour

I notice that the excellent Naval and Military Press have begun to republish classic works of Victorian travellers. I have been prompted to revisit one of my favourite travellers tales 'Through Carpathia with a Carpet Bag.' This account of a journey in the 1820's was a pioneering work in the infant study of anthropology written by that formidable female novelist and pipe smoker, Blore Heath.

(please note this post contains images and references that readers may wish their wives and servants to avoid seeing.)

Dame Blore Heath. 1790-1887.

The work contained two remarkable firsts, which have become commonplace nowadays. The identification of the forest dwelling shamanists of Carpathia as a branch of the Khazar kingdom. And the brilliant idea that when lost for evidence a female academic could simply make it up and damn to hell any male colleague with the temerity to contradict her.

Not the least charming part of her book were the woodcuts illustrating the street life of old Carpathia. I am pleased to say that the Old Glory figure makers have faithfully reproduced these in their set 'Cossack Civilians.'

Street sellers and their cries:

'Who will buy my lovely sticks? Freshly picked today boil them or pickle them.'

'Stones, Stones-oh, get them while they're hot.'

'Night Soil, best prices paid.'
It was a very poor society.

and life was hard, as this 25 year old shows.

Ladies of the night: Young aristocrats doing the grand tour would consider a night spent with one of these beauties a highlight of their education.

The nightmarish aspects of Khazarian life did not end with the courtesans. The young urchin on the left appears to have put his head on back to front. Fear not gentle reader, it is only Old Glory's faithful rendering of the period hairstyles.

These merchants show how easily the Victorian image of a Semite could link the legends of the 12th tribe of Israel and Khazaristan.

The sword as held by this village chieftain, had an almost mythical importance. It was handed down within families and the ivory handle was made from the thigh bone of a conquered adversary. In fact modern research has shown them to be mainly cheap Venetian imports with sheep bone handles.

Finally, one of the most intriguing images of the book. Of all the Guilds the 'Allotment Holders' was the most prestigious being open only to the eldest sons of the most noble families. This print traditionally labelled, 'putting in a few early potatoes, Good Friday morning.' is now believed to represent the religious ceremonies connected with blessing the Garlic crop. An important but obscure part of Khazarian life.


Bluebear Jeff said...

I must say that there are some wonderfully characterful figures in this OG line.

Thank you for sharing them with us . . . and I suspect that you are finding them more fun than you originally thought they'd be.

-- Jeff

Gallia said...

I am taken in with it all John. The JP writing style is descriptive and pleasurable as are the ideas blended with cleverly designed and well-painted miniatures. This ensemble has added much to my day -in a good way. Smiles all round here. Thank you.
Applause, Encore!

Peeler said...

That made me laugh out loud! Good to see you back, wonderful style, thankyou.

Fitz-Badger said...

Great little snippets and matching minis!
(Dame Blore Heath is rather hirsute, isn't she?) lol

tradgardmastare said...

It is good to have you back with words and super figs too.
best wishes
p.s I await the first game with mounting excitement...

marinergrim said...

Excellent. My day is enlightened.

abdul666 said...

Marvelously enjoyable on all points: thanks!
Now, most Carpathian folks seem to have oddly (if appropiately) pointed teeth?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

..and not only that abdull666 they also seem to have to stand with their legs very wide apart... I suspect either a bad case of piles (due to the national diet of pickled sticks), or they're all drunk (as a result of the thought of boiled sticks and hot stones for lunch.... again.....)

...welcome back John... for almost 30 whole seconds I was actually searching for the novelist Blore Heath in Wikipedia..... :o))

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Happy to see you back here John, and I love the various figures you have to show us.

Best Regards,


old-tidders said...

nicely painted civilians, and acompanying narrative.

-- Allan