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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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

I should be preening, but I’m not allowed to just yet.

twirlingpreeningI’m so pleased with myself I could twirl and preen, except that I’m not done done – no twirling or preening until then.

For more than two years, the house has been in an absolute state of chaos, one that accelerated In June as Doug’s stuff needed dealing with. There has been all matter of inconveniences: painting, drywalling, floor installing, termite eradication, near gutting of the family room, bookshelving, more painting, wallpapering, and a fair rodeo of sorting and organizing.

The upstairs hallway still looks like this and will for some time to come, but the entire house looked like this in July!

The upstairs hallway still looks like this and will for some time to come, but the entire house looked like this in July!

The last couple of months I’ve been hammering away at it – oddly motivated after having been a sloth for a good while. I believe I’m nesting. Except for the upstairs hallway, study and a couple of the closets, the house is decluttered, reasonably clean, and I know where stuff is. This alone is a major accomplishment.

When we first moved here from Milwaukee, we luxuriated in the fact that we didn’t need draperies on the windows for either privacy or warmth. My windows, and I have a lot of glass in this house, were brazenly bare and I loved it. I figured if anyone snuck up here, got past the dogs, and peered into windows they deserved to see something.

I had always hated curtains and draperies. They’re just dumb, they cost a stupid amount of money, and let’s not even discuss the cost and installation of the hardware.

The drapes and I had to have frequent time-outs.

The drapes and I had to have frequent time-outs.

But. . .I noticed a few years ago that my windows went from being nude to being naked. There’s a distinction there. Nude is fine art, naked is pedestrian. I can’t abide pedestrian.

I added strategically draped scarves and valances here and there so that my Nudes with Barn remained nude, but tasteful. I did put proper lace curtains in the dressing room as I’m not so easy about the idea of a Peeping Tom as I used to be.

The living room/dining room stymied me. Whatever I did was going to require a second mortgage given two 7’ windows and two 9’ atrium doors. I pondered and browsed and hovered over the “add to cart” button on a hundred different sites. I scoured stores. I frequently came down with the vapors at the cost. I put it off.

The ceiling is painted, the walls are papered, the floors are installed and the room is starting to come together. It was time to pull the trigger. I ordered inexpensive faux silk draperies from Amazon and boggled at how nice they were when they arrived. I tried to order hardware but it had been on back order for weeks with an estimated shipping date of December 19th. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to be trying to hang drapes while tripping over a Christmas tree.

Tools!  I am woman!  Hear me roar!

Tools! I am woman! Hear me roar!

This morning I woke obnoxiously early and headed to the Lowe’s after some coffee and cogitation on the unseemly state of the windows. An hour later I was home and fiddling around with the new power drill – a twinkie Black & Decker, but lightweight enough for me to stand on step-stools to install the drapery hardware also procured from the Lowe’s.

I prayed on Facebook that the installation of all this would be an adventure and not a saga. It was a bit of both, but by my standards drama free. Oh sure, it sounded like a biker bar with all the cursing and carrying-on, but nothing got broke, no emergency room visits, and the end result is as well-installed and level as is possible in a house with no true right angles anywhere.

Standing on step-stools with tools is creepy.

Standing on step-stools with tools is creepy.

OK. That’s not true. I’m sure somebody who knew what they were doing and strong enough to hold a proper drill would have rendered hardware more securely attached to the walls, but, hey, it’s fake silk, they don’t weigh much, and if it all falls down I’ll just start screaming until they commit me. I’m pretty sure the state of my windows won’t be as much of a concern under those circumstances.

drapesThey look great. Not much of the glass is covered – that wasn’t my intention. The room is still flooded with light and once I get the prisms properly hung with ribbon from the exposed rod, it’s going to be spectacular.

I told myself I would be immensely pleased with myself if I managed to just get the draperies hung today. But, surprise! I was done by 2:30 after working at a leisurely pace. So then I took to sorting and packing the remaining books, ejected all the flotsam and jetsam from this room, moved furniture around, and began putting the molding back on windows and doors! Hence, my desire to preen.

I was rocking through stuff today.

Rainbow-making prisms

Rainbow-making prisms

I start every weekend with an optimistic to-do list, but, by golly, I’m going to pull it off this time! Tomorrow I finish all the molding except for the pieces I have to replace, plant a hundred crocuses and nearly that many snowdrops, and, with any luck, get some laundry done.

I will be insufferably proud when I check off the last thing on the list tomorrow. Woo hoo! I can’t hardly wait.

prisms (2)An aside: Of course, the downstairs hall is now a mess again, but that’s short term – that stuff will go to Doug’s daughters’ storage unit on Monday. This means there are only 4½ boxes in this room! Those will be dispatched with Doug’s daughter comes for the holidays and we can go through them together.

berry 8 lbs (2)Another aside: Berry is doing better. He’s still at the vet’s. He is still having to be syringe fed. The good news is that he’s not a snotty puppy any longer and he’s put on a pound since they’ve been feeding him that highly stinky food thinned with Karo syrup (oh, gag me now.) Maybe by Monday I can bring a healthy dog home.

And yet another:  I just got news and a pic that Berry is up to 8 lbs!  Yee Haw!