The big event of this week was... KRAMPUS. Lots going on, including this article in the Atlantic: Krampus: The Dark Companion of Saint Nick. Lots of people I know online were sharing Krampus items, and my favorite was this one: Krampus in a motor car!
I also did some reading (prompted by outraged tweets that someone shared re: Univ. of Utrecht) about "Black Pete," the companion of Sinter Claus. Eegad, what a complicated cultural mess that is. The use of blackface is pretty dreadful... but does that mean the whole tradition gets tossed out? Wkipedia has a detailed article: Zwarte Piet. Here he is, black (not blackface) in Moorish clothing, with St. Nikolaas circa 1850:
And let us not forget... the Yule Goat!!! There is even a Yule Goat Webcam, and here is more about that goat at Wikipedia... with a depiction by one of my favorite illustrators, John Bauer:
It's not quite the end of the semester yet, but I decided to give myself the special treat of starting a new audiobook and I was thrilled to find a book by Amish Tripathi at Audible.com! It's Oath of the Vayuputras:
I'm working on a new "Elephant" unit for the Myth-Folklore class but of course many of the stories for that unit are from India. I love chain tales, so of course I was delighted to find this chain tale: The Little Blackbird from E.M. Gordon's Indian Folk Tales: Being Side-lights on Village Life in Bilaspore, Central Provinces (1908). This is an Indian blackbird:
I was also delighted to find this blog post (thanks to my friend Vanessa at Google+): In Search of Indian Comics (Part One): Folk Roots and Traditions by Henry Jenkins - see the blog post for lots of great illustrations like this one from the contemporary graphic novel, Bhimayana: Incidents in the Life of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar:
STAR TREK. I read a great essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books online: Who Tends to Captain Picard’s Bromeliads? by Michael Miles. It's a thought-provoking and critical view of Star Trek's post-scarcity economy (where are the robots who do all the work?)... and hey, how many times do you ever see the word bromeliad in print, eh? Bromeliads are pretty flowering plants:
STATUE OF LIBERTY. I thought this account of the creation of the Statue of Liberty was really fascinating. Egypt is part of the story: The Statue of Liberty Was Originally a Muslim Woman. Here's a photo of the statue's head (and that's Nancy Reagan waving a flag):
HARRY POTTER. I'm a regular reader of audio books, and I use the Audible.com service. I've been a member since the company started, so for about 15 years... and I've been waiting for the Harry Potter books to arrive. And now they have! I am going to enjoy getting to listen to these books in audio form!
PATTANAIK - SITA. This is physical curation rather than digital... but I finally got my copy of Pattanaik's Sita book, and I am really excited about reading this over the break. I wish it were available as an ebook!
VEDABASE: BHAGAVATA PURANA. I continue to be amazed at the resources available at the VedaBase website, especially its edition of the Bhagavata Purana. If the whole thing were printed out it would take many volumes, as you can see from the picture here. What's really cool is the way it is presented: you can just read the summary chapter by chapter, along with the verses in English, or you can click on each individual verse and see the Sanskrit, a transliteration, a glossary, plus the commentary. Amazing!
DHANTERAS. One of the holidays associated with Diwali is Dhanteras, a holiday associated with wealth, prosperity, and the goddess Lakshmi. I really enjoyed all the Dhanteras greetings at Twitter, many of which featured the feet of the goddess Lakshmi along with su-astikas (swastikas) as you can see here, and you can learn more about Dhanteras at Wikipedia:
And of the many mythological Ben Carson memes making the rounds, here are two of my favorites: one for Easter Island and one for the Great Wall of China (I followed the #BenCarsonWikipedia hashtag ... it spawned a lot of mythologizing memes last week!).
From an Italian friend at Google+ I learned about Camille Renversade, whose blog you can see here: Mon Cabinet de Curiosités. Amazing! I learned that he is the author of Créatures fantastiques. Here is a page from that book:
GRAPHIC NOVELS AT SCRIBD. Thanks to Josh in class, I learned that Scribd has some of the Campfire (India) graphic novels available: so, you are just $1 away from owning your own digital copy of Ekalavya or Sundarkaand (Hanuman), and $3 away from owning your own digital copy of Krishna: Defender of Dharma. I've added links to the Scribd record for each graphic novel. Maybe that will lead to some more people reading these great graphic novels for class. I wish they had all the Campfire graphic novels, but I could only find these three:
MORE GODS AND GODDESSES. I've been working on writing up notes to Devdutt Pattanaik's Calendar Art videos, and as a result I've come across all kinds of wonderful images at Wikipedia. For reasons he explains in the author's note, Pattanaik uses black-and-white images in the book, but Wikipedia has many gorgeous color images for those of us who miss all the lovely colors!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: GAYATRI. I'm a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, and so of course I was excited to make up this page with a traditional Gayatri performance (from Ravi Shankar's Chants of India), along with a couple of Battlestar Galactica videos. You can see/hear all those videos here; below is the theme music from the Battlestar Galactica movie, The Plan, where you can hear the mantra most clearly:
NAMAZU. From the History of Geology blog, an article about Namazu: The Earthshaker by David Bressan. In Japanese mythology, Namazu is a giant catfish which causes earthquakes when he moves his tail.
ROCK OF PROMETHEUS. Also from Atlas Obscura is this piece about a cave in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia where you can supposedly see the actual rock to which the Titan Prometheus was chained as punishment for stealing fire from Olympus.
CEMETERY SYMBOLISM. This graphic Guide to Cemetery Symbolism (graphic by Michelle Enemark, text by Allison C. Meier) turned up in Atlas Obscura.
WELLCOME LIBRARY. My favorite discovery was the amazing collection of images at the Wellcome Library Images. I didn't expect that they would have so many images from India, but they do! Just as one example, here is a lovely Shiva with a baby Ganesha:
BEL TREE. There was a reference to the sacred Bel tree in Divakaruni's Palace of Illusions, and there is a wonderful Wikipedia article that explains about the tree and also about its religious symbolism in the Hindu tradition, especially in connection with Shiva worship. This image shows a Shiva linga decorated with Bel leaves:
FENRIS'S SACRED STORIES. I read and really enjoyed Morris Fenris's collection of Indian stories. Each story is very short, and the stories are drawn from many different sources. I will definitely write up a detailed Reading Guide for this book so that I can include links to help people learn more about the especially famous stories contained in the collection. You can see a list of the stories here; the book itself does not contain illustrations, so I would like to find good illustrations to use. One story is about Rama and how the Indian palm squirrel got its stripes!