Σάββατο, 30 Οκτωβρίου 2010


Giovanni Battista TIEPOLO
Decapitation of Saint John the Baptist(1732–1733)

No matter that this form of execution revolts todays civilized people, or horrified people of the past when decapicated heads of riots or criminals exposed in public, it seems to be the less painful and of instant death for the victim and in some cases a kind of honourable execution, in relation with any other kind of martyrdom of sadistic nature with prolonged suffering and terrible pain delaying as possible the salvation by death.

Decapitation of Violent Chinese Soldiers
artist:Utagawa Kokunimasa, October 1894

Also it was a common method of celebrating a victory in a battle by collecting heads of the dead enemies and make a pile of them and also a proof for the execution of a wanted criminal to claim the reward.

Chinese drawings of decapitation punishment

Decapitation of Christian martyrs
(unknown artist's medieval painting)

Crusader beheads arab prisoners

public decapitation (unknown artist and date)

Ritual decapitation in precolombian Peru
1000 years before Incas

Babylonian relief of decapitated enemies

Benvenuto Cellini, 1545 - 1554
Perseus holds the severed Medusa's head

Caravaggio (1609)
David holds Goliath's severed head

Τρίτη, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Album: Reign in Blood, Band: Slayer (1986)

The most aggresive and speed album of this period and probably one of the most beautiful extreme metal noise albums of all time. More in allmusic

Bonus track:

Κυριακή, 24 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Vann Nath: His paintings of Pol Pot's Hell he had lived

Vann Nath, 63, born in Battambang, Cambodia, is one of seven survivors -- and three still alive today -- of the Khmer Rouge's secret prison known as S-21, where 14,000 men, women and children were interrogated, tortured and executed during the 1975-79 Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. He is one of Cambodia's most prominent artists, and it was this skill that kept him alive at S-21. His life was spared by his jailors so that he could be put to work painting and sculpting portraits of Pol Pot.

In 1979, Vann Nath escaped from S-21 as the Pol Pot regime collapsed under a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. When the former secret prison was converted to a genocide museum, Vann Nath returned to work there for several years. The craft which saved his life would allow Vann Nath to show the world some of the brutal crimes of the Khmer Rouge. His paintings depicting scenes he witnessed in S-21 hang in the museum today, one of the few public reminders of the regime's brutality.

Nath has relentlessly advocated for justice for the victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities through his writings, paintings, and interviews. From 2001 to 2002 Vann Nath worked intensively with Cambodian film-maker Rithy Panh in the making of the documentary "The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine." Vann Nath is extensively featured in the film in which Panh brought together former prisoners and guards and filmed them on site at the prison or at the killing fields known as Choeung Ek. With calm yet penetrating dignity, survivor Nath confronts and interrogates his former torturers, illuminating aspects of life at Tuol Sleng that had been previously unknown.

Vann Nath and his work has been recognised by many awards, media coverage, and exhibitions around the world. In 1998 his "A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge's S-21" was published. He currently lives and works in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Please visit his SITE to learn more

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a museum in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The site is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge communist regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. You can read in Wikipedia about the extreme tortures and prison conditions of those who disagree with the communist regime.

Παρασκευή, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2010

The hilarious but horrible Saint Erasmus' martyrdom

Dieric Bouts the Elder
Central part of a 1458 Triptych

Saint Erasmus of Formiae is a Christian saint and martyr who died in 303 AD, also known as Saint Elmo. He is venerated as the patron saint of sailors. After numerous tortures he suffered for his faith, and miraculous salvations by an angel, then they kiled him with an incredible torture: by opening his abdomen and rolling his intestines on a spit!

Nicolas Poussin (1628-1629)



Henricus Satrapitanus (1516)

Anonymous (1474)

Willem Vrelant (1450-1460)

1400-1450 engraving

Δευτέρα, 18 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Dark tales from Austria (1868)

Someone intetrogates his wife with double
medieval tortures,
that of Iron Boots (compressing
her legs nearly to the point
of being broken)
and that of finger smashers

"Dunkle Geschichten aus Oesterreich" by Moritz Bermann is a book with collection of dark stories from Austria, with macabre illustrations by Vinzenz Katzler (tortures, executions, murders, etc. Unfortunatelly the book is still in German, but is in public domain, so anyone who understands german can read it in wikipedia. I only post here the most macabre illustrations.

Public flagellation for adultery

The victim is walled in a room, where is left to die

A bound victim left to be eaten by dogs and wild animals

Public Decapitation

Compalsory drinking or the droplet torture.
With the threat of smashing his boby
with the fall of a heavy instrument to follow...

The Horrible Death with the nails
of the Hollow "Iron Maiden"

Public execution with burning

Παρασκευή, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Medusa's Head

Gorgon in a terracota relief (625-600 BC)
Museum of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

In Greek mythology Medusa was a Gorgon, namely a chthonic and horrible female monster, and if anyone gazed directly upon her face he would turn to stone immediately. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head as a weapon for turning to stone his enemies, until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.

In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion. Many ancient reliefs, poteries and jewellries depict fullsize Gorgones or Medusa's heads and some Renaissance and after painters have painted quite creepy and horrifying Medusa's heads.

Michelangelo Caravaggio (1592-1600)

Peter Paul Rubens (1617-1618)

Anonymous Flemmish painter (1600)

Arnold Böcklin (1878)

Franz von Stuck (1892)

Jacek Malczewski (1900)

Τετάρτη, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Album: Strong Arm of the Law, band: Saxon (1980)

Unquestionably their best work and one of the all time heavy metal classics, one of the most outstanding albums of the so called New Wave of British Heavy Metal and one of the predecessors of Thrash Metal. More in Allmusic

Τρίτη, 12 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Black Death: The hilarious Plague Doctor's protective dressing

1656 engraving by Paul Fürst
Doctor Schnabel von Rom

Ενα τέτοιο αναπάντεχης έκτασης θανατικό, όπως ο Μαύρος Θάνατος (1348-1350) βρήκε εντελώς απροετοίμαστους όλους τους διαχειριστές της υγείας εκείνης της εποχής. Αλχημείες, μαγικά κλπ γιατροσόφια μόνο από τύχη είχαν κάποιο πενιχρό αποτέλεσμα στο βαθμό που από σύμπτωση ανέστειλαν την πορεία της ασθένειας με κανένα αντιβιοτικό παρασκεύασμα. Αντιθέτως, συχνά είχαν το αντίθετο αποτέλεσμα, διαδίδοντας ακόμα πιο πολύ την επιδημία.

drawing of 1827

Ο ρόλος των περίφημων γιατρών της επιδημίας του Μαύρου Θανάτου με την περίεργη αμφίεση περιορίζονταν μάλλον μόνο στην διάγνωση της αρρώστιας στα σπίτια που επισκέπτονταν, μια και δεν ήταν επαγγελματίες, αλλά πρακτικοί ή ερασιτέχνες. Στοιχεία από συμβόλαια των πληγέντων από την επιδημία πόλεων με αυτούς τους γιατρούς, που έχουν διασωθεί, δείχνουν ότι αμείβονταν γενναία λόγω του μεγάλου ρίσκου που έπαιρναν για τη δική τους υγεία. Η δε περίεργη στολή τους, σχεδιασμένη και βασισμένη στις αντιλήψεις που είχαν τότε για τη φύση της αρρώστιας και τον τρόπο διάδοσής της, αποτελούνταν από τα εξής:

Jean-Jacques Manget (1721)
Plague Doctor 1636-37 in Nimeguen

- Ενα πλατύγυρο καπέλο, χαρακτηριστικό της εξέχουσας κοινωνικής θέσης και του επαγγέλματός του. Iσως ο πλατύς γύρος να χρησίμευε και για περισσότερη προστασία από τη μετάδοση.

- Το πιο αστείο και περίεργο χαρακτηριστικό της στολής ήταν η μάσκα σε σχήμα ράμφους πουλιού και τα από κόκκινο γυαλί μάτια της. Τότε πίστευαν ότι η αρρώστια μεταδίδεται από τον άσχημο αέρα που εξέπεμπε ο ασθενής («μίασμα») και ότι με μαγικό τρόπο η μάσκα αυτή του γιατρού θα έδιωχνε την αρρώστια από τον ασθενή κρατώντας την σε αυτό το ράμφος. Αυτό το ράμφος μάλιστα ήταν γεμάτο με δυνατού αρώματος λουλούδια, βότανα και κάθε λογής ουσία με έντονη μυρωδιά, τα οποία πιστεύονταν ότι εξουδετερώνουν το «μίασμα» της αρρώστιας και την μυρωδιά της (μυρωδιά σήψης από τις πληγές ή την αποσύνθεση) που θεωρούνταν ο μεταδοτικός παράγοντας. Τα δε κόκκινα τζάμια τη θέση των ματιών της μάσκας πίστευαν ότι κάνει αυτόν που τα φοράει αδιαπέραστο στο «κακό».

coloured version of 1656 Paul Fürst's engraving

- Έναν μακρύ από το κεφάλι μέχρι τα πόδια μαύρο ολόσωμο μανδύα που κάλυπτε κάθε υπόλοιπο μέρος του σώματος ελαχιστοποιώντας την έκθεση του δέρματος στην ατμόσφαιρα. Ηταν αλειμμένος με ζωικό λίπος ή κερί και αρωματισμένος για καλύτερη προστασία γιατί πίστευαν ότι η αρρώστια που «εκπέμπεται» από τον ασθενή μπορεί να παγιδευτεί πάνω σε αυτά, ή και για προστασία από τα σταγονίδια που εκτόξευαν οι ασθενείς όταν έβηχαν.

- Μια μακριά βέργα με την οποία από απόσταση έδειχνε, εξέταζε ή καθοδηγούσε τα υπόλοιπα μέλη της οικογένειας.

- Μακριά γάντια και πολύ ψηλές δερμάτινες μπότες, σαν των ψαράδων, που προστάτευαν τα χέρια, τα πόδια και τη βουβωνική περιοχή: επειδή εκεί πρωτοεμφανίζονταν η αρρώστια έδιναν ιδιαίτερη προσοχή στην κάλυψη αυτών των περιοχών (λαιμού, άκρων, βουβωνικής περιοχής).

Δεν είναι γνωστό πόσο διαδεδομένοι ήταν αυτοί οι γιατροί, ούτε και η αποτελεσματικότητά τους απέναντι στην αρρώστια. Η όλη αμφίεση ήταν μεν σχεδιασμένη σύμφωνα με τις προλήψεις και αντιλήψεις της εποχής για τη διάδοση της αρρώστιας, τυχαία όμως παρείχε κάποια προστασία στο γιατρό , μια και το «μίασμα» είχε τον ίδιο τρόπο ατμοσφαιρικής διάδοσης με τα άγνωστα τότε μικρόβια. Επίσης, πιθανότατα τα έντονα αρώματα της μάσκας και της υπόλοιπης στολής να απωθούσαν τους ψύλλους από το να καθίσουν πάνω στο γιατρό και να μεταφερθούν έτσι και σε άλλες περιοχές. Αλλά αν οι ψύλλοι δεν είχαν πρόβλημα με συγκεκριμένα αρώματα μια χαρά μπορούσαν να μεταφερθούν και αλλού μέσω της στολής του γιατρού!

A plague doctor's duties during Black Death (1348-1350) were often limited to visiting victims to verify whether they had been afflicted or not. Surviving records of contracts drawn up between cities and plague doctors often gave the plague doctor enormous latitude and heavy financial compensation, given the risk of death involved for the plague doctor himself. A plague doctor's clothing consisted of:

by bloods a rover (nickname)

- A wide-brimmed black hat worn close to the head. At the time, a wide-brimmed black hat would have identified a person as a doctor, much the same as how nowadays a hat may identify chefs, soldiers, and workers. The wide-brimmed hat may have also been used as partial shielding from infection.

- A primitive gas mask in the shape of a bird's beak. A common belief at the time was that the plague was spread by "bad air". There may have been a belief that by dressing in a bird-like mask, the wearer could draw the plague away from the patient and onto the garment the plague doctor wore. The mask also included red glass eyepieces, which were thought to make the wearer impervious to evil. The beak of the mask was often filled with strongly aromatic herbs and spices to overpower the miasmas or "bad air" which was also thought to carry the plague. At the very least, it may have dulled the smell of unburied corpses and sputum from plague victims.

- A long, black overcoat. The overcoat worn by the plague doctor was tucked in behind the beak mask at the neckline to minimize skin exposure. It extended to the feet, and was often coated head to toe in suet or wax. A coating of suet may have been used with the thought that the plague could be drawn away from the flesh of the infected victim and either trapped by the suet, or repelled by the wax. The coating of wax likely served as protection against respiratory droplet contamination, but it was not known at the time if coughing carried the plague. It was likely that the overcoat was waxed to simply prevent sputum or other bodily fluids from clinging to it.

- A wooden cane. The cane was used to both direct family members to move the patient, other individuals nearby, and possibly to examine patients without directly touching them.

-Leather breeches. Similar to waders worn by fishermen, leather breeches were worn beneath the cloak to protect the legs and groin from infection. Since the plague often tended to manifest itself first in the lymph nodes, particular attention was paid to protecting the armpits, neck, and groin.

It is not known how often or widespread plague doctors were, or how effective they were in treatment of the disease. It's likely that while the plague doctor's clothing offered some protection to the wearer, the plague doctors themselves may have actually contributed more to the spreading of the disease than its treatment, in that the plague doctor unknowingly served as a vector for infected fleas to move from host to host.(Wikipedia)