Sacre` Bleu! Minoan Blue Monkey Frescoes

NOTE: A million years ago when I was young, attractive and a middle-aged student at Marshall University, I wrote a paper that captured my imagination and secured my love of Cultural Anthropology. I had enormous fun writing this paper. Beware: it’s long — something like 33 pages long. I am posting it to archive it. You’re free to read it, of course, those who do report not only being interested, but amused.

NOTE #2: I sometimes refer to myself as once the world’s foremost authority on Minoan blue monkey frescoes. I would hope someone has cleared up the question as to why an ancient people in what is now Greece were drawing blue monkeys on their walls.

Sacre` Bleu!: Minoan Blue Monkey Frescoes

What ultimately gives a culture its character is its thought,

and that– in a prehistoric context– is the most elusive characteristic of all….

Nevertheless, the Minoans left thousands of clues to guide us.

[Castleden, 1993, p. 123]

Introduction

This paper began as an attempt to sate my curiosity as to why a prehistoric people on an island in the Mediterranean felt compelled to paint monkeys – an animal not native to the area – and, moreover, why they chose to do so with blue paint. The paper ends with the development of my own, apparently unique, theory.

These prehistoric people, the Minoans, are generally believed to have developed a sophisticated culture on the island of Crete. Minoan or Minoan-influenced settlements, some argued to be colonies, are also found on the islands of Thera, Kythera, Rhodes, Naxos, Karpathos, Kea, and Melos, and on the Anatolian coast [Castleden, 1993, p. 117]. The differences between Neolithic assemblages and Early Minoan ones are sufficientlydissimilar as to suggest the Minoans were immigrants to the island, although Watrous discusses internal factors that may account for the cultural breaks [Watrous, 1994, pp. 703-704]. The material evidence of the Greek mainland during the Bronze Age suggests the Cretan Minoans were not the ancestors of the people who became the Classical Greeks [MacKendrick, 1981, p. 61]. Sometime after the volcanic eruption on Thera, the Minoan civilization began to dissipate, eventually to be replaced by the Mycenaean culture of the Grecian mainland.   Their origin and demise is mysterious, but they left enough artifacts on Thera alone that “[e]ven if [Doumas] had the money- which he does not – to pay more restorers, the sheer weight of the archaeological evidence would occupy hundreds of people for decades.” [Ellis, 1998, p. 187.]

In “sound-bite” descriptions of Minoans, the bull leaping, polychromatic art/architecture, and undeciphered Linear A script are almost invariably mentioned as is speculation about status of the women. Yet, one does not have to delve very far into the literature to find mention of the blue monkey frescoes on the walls of a “palace” and other structures. They are held as examples of trade connections, serve as examples of the Minoans use of color, and have been used as evidence of Minoan colonization.

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The garden that grief and anger built

Grief stole the garden that grief and anger built. 

I want it back.

As Doug was dying, he sat in the daybed by the bay window and watched me build the garden. He was so sick, and I had taken off work to be his caretaker. Sick though he was, I had many hours left to myself. 

I sat in my family room and looked at my bare backyard.  I had always planned a grand garden back there.  Over the years I had made periodic attempts at it but my midlife career as a full-time employee and full time college student didn’t let much happen. 

Now, I had time.  And, miraculously, I had money.

I began the garden.  I built a circular retaining wall to house daffodils, peonies, vinca and ivy.  I bought a water fountain — a very modern design — so unusual for me.  I planted dozens and dozens of white petunias and white double impatiens — I wanted the garden to glow in the moonlight.  I tended to the wisteria and brought it back from the brink. 

The white roses were pruned and fed.  The furniture painted.  New cushions procured.

As Doug lay dying, I poured my grief and anger into building the garden.

It was nearly complete, as complete as gardens get, when he was hospitalized for that last time.  Three weeks or so at the hospital.  The grass and weeds grew.

The night after he died, his daughter and I sat in the overgrown garden drinking wine and telling stories about him.  Tears flowed freely. 

The fireflies darted about the weeds and brush.  Music played softly.  The windchimes provided needed baritone to the cascading of the fountain.

It was such a lovely evening for such a cruel event.

As I took care of Doug’s estate and caught up with work, the garden was abandoned.  So much to do – the garden didn’t seem like a necessity.

Soon it was an overgrown mess.  I couldn’t catch my breath Couldn’t summon the energy to reclaim a garden on the edge of a forest from going wild.

I vowed to tend it as I realized what a necessity it was.

My dad died suddenly.  The day of his funeral, I cleared an area near the fountain and planted 13 Madonna lilies — a flower of significance to him. 

As I actively grieved him, I reclaimed the garden.  Dozens of petunias, impatiens and a white Mandevilla.  The Japanese climbing hydrangea bloomed for the first time.  I found solace in the garden.

And then my best friend died. 

And along with her, the garden. 

I lost my will to bring life out of death.

It is still neglected though it provides the sudden bloom now and again — mock orange, Peruvian daffodils, lily of the valley.

During the pandemic, I vowed to reclaim it.  But then I broke my foot.  And then I contracted COVID.

Oh, how I long to get back to the garden.  I dedicate it now to me.  I need its life force to revive mine.  It is now a necessity again.

Angela Talbot’s Old Lady

Some time before 2010 Angela Talbot created a piece of art – a sculpture. I can’t find Ms. Talbot and I don’t know the piece’s proper name, but in the few web instances where I can find the image she is called “Old Lady.’

I love this old woman.

I came across the photo on March 1, 2010 and nicked it to use to illustrate a blog post about how I hate to paint.

I was young, I was foolish. I know better now. I don’t steal images from the internet any longer. (I use Creative Commons and the like and use them legally.)

Along about 2019, someone nicked the photo from me and posted it to Pinterest making that post of mine my all-time most popular knocking off the pedestal the one about negligees.

You would not believe how many hits I get off of that photo. Daily. Every day. I get excited at the stats and go look, but nope, it’s just Angela’s artwork gathering viewers. It really is quite the piece.

I do wish folks would stay around and read a bit.

I lied. I’m going to steal one more photo. This from AngelaTalbotCreations on My Space. The Old Lady in all her glory. If you know how to contact Angela, please let me know.

Angela Talbot’s Old Lady

Little Bright Blue Boat

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

Safe in the little boat painted bright blue, I dip the paddle into the water now and again but am letting the water just carry me.  I wave to folks on the shore. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me.   I don’t have much strength, yet. 

Still. 

The river’s current is gentle.  I don’t know where the current is taking me.  I have been content to just drift down the river waving to folks as I head out alone. 

I am not well-provisioned.  This is an adventure – the river will provide or perhaps it won’t. I am not so much curious about what lies ahead as I am resigned.  There is no map, and I couldn’t read it if there were.  For a map to be useful one must know where they are and where they are going.  I don’t know either.  I did not plan this trip.  I did not choose the little bright blue boat.

The water called to me and there it was on the beach.

The little bright blue boat drifts toward the center of the river where the current is stronger.  Picking up speed, I now use the oars to steer the boat.  The surface of the water ripples with a wind gust and low clouds begin to move in. 

The little bright blue boat and I are on our way.