Author: Historical Nonfiction

Yeibichai – a female mask – carved by Navajo artist Clitso Dedman (1897-1953). I was not able to find much clear information on Yeibichai online. If anyone knows about their place in the Navajo universe, I would love to hear about it – just message me through tumblr or the website!

Image courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

This map was made in 1943, by the American Geographical Society. See it full size here. Pretty neat, right?

After bills pass both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in British Parliament, they are required to be given “Royal Assent” by the reigning monarch, at which point they become law of the land and known as an Act of Parliament.

Royal Assent is largely a formality. The last time Royal Assent was not given was in 1707 by Queen Anne. And the last time it was given in person by the monarch was in 1854!

The Sinhalese people are native to Sri Lanka, speak Sinhala, are majority Theravada Buddhists, and today make up about 75% of the island’s population. They also have a pretty cool origin myth. The Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan epic from the 400s CE, tells how the Indian prince Vijaya was the grandson of a lion. (No mention of whether Vijaya had a mane or ate really, really raw meat.)

According to the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya traveled to the island of Sri Lanka and married Princess Kuveni, a lady of Sri Lanka’s previous inhabitants the Yakkhas. Vijaya eventually overcame the Yakkhas, and with his followers took control of Sri Lanka, becoming the first of the Sinhalese people.

The Mahavamsa says the Sinhala never forgot their origins: Sinhala literally means “of lions.” In the Sinhalese tradition the lion is the mythical ancestor of kings and a symbol of royal authority. Because, you know, the first king was a quarter lion and people tend to remember that.

Duct tape was initially used during World War II for a very specific military purpose: keeping ammunition boxes sealed. It quickly became clear that it was useful for many other things, as well. And its incredibly adhesive qualities as well as inherent waterproofing led to soldiers calling it “duck tape,” referring to a duck’s wicking feathers.

After the war, former American soldiers who went to work in construction spread the word about the amazing new tape. It ended up being used for all sorts of HVAC applications, but mostly for holding ductwork together, so “duck tape” became “duct tape.“

Or, why the Mercator Projection is rarely used nowadays.

It was revolutionary when it was first invented because it represents vessels’ straight courses as straight lines, making navigating ships much easier. But that was in 1569. And cartography has become a much more advanced science these days.

It is made of pure gold, so its not just large but heavy too. Also I am not quite sure how it would stay on.

Made in Tulungagung during Java’s Late Classic Period, 1000s to 1300s CE.

In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that “France signifies freedom” and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. And France maintained that law, even after it began allowing slavery in its New World colonies in the 1600s. Any enslaved person who as brought to France became free. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.

Slavery in the French colonies was another story. The French crown regulated the slave trade and institution in the colonies, starting with Louis XIV’s Code Noir in 1685. The royal government had over 100 years of profiting from plantation-based slavery and particularly sugar production before the French Revolution killed the royal family and attempted to end slavery in the colonies. The first elected Assembly of the First Republic abolished slavery in France (since the royal law was no longer recognized) and more importantly in France’s colonies.

However, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in 1802. This was mainly because of lobbying by planters in the West Indies, and to benefit from taxing the planter’s slavery-produced profits. In 1848, under the Second Republic, slavery was totally abolished in the French colonies. And this time it stuck.

The history of Hong Kong, visualized:

How did a small island become a hub of global finance? And why is it so important to both Britain and China? NatGeo’s illustrated history of Hong Kong leads you through almost two centuries of growth, change, and protests.