.... The aim is to retrieve missing artifacts, investigate reports of new ones and understand the importance of what they are doing.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Chinese and European ivory puzzle balls

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_carving
"By the 18th century China had a considerable market in items such as figures made for export to Europe, and from the Meiji Period Japan followed. Japanese ivory for the domestic market had traditionally mostly been small objects such as netsuke, for which ivory was used from the 17th century, or little inlays for sword-fittings and the like, but in the later 19th century, using African ivory, pieces became as large as the material would allow, and carved with virtuosic skill. A speciality was round puzzle balls of openwork that contained a series of smaller balls, freely rotating, inside them, a tribute to the patience of Asian craftsmen."

Usually, many of these balls have a decorated stand made of ivory too.

Chinese puzzle ball, with openwork and a series of twelve smaller balls, ivory, 19th century. British Museum. Original photograph from Ged Carroll

Form http://tinglefactor.typepad.com/thetinglefactorbox/2013/07/where-is-the-seam-chinese-puzzle-ball.html

"Originally, they (Chinese puzzle balls) were made almost exclusively from ivory, or the tusks of elephants and were the playthings of rich men because of the time and effort involved in making them. ... Usually, puzzle balls are symbols of good luck, and are decorated with a variety of feng shui symbols. The outermost layer often features the phoenix and dragon, symbols of yin and yang. The phoenix represents the wife while the dragon is the husband and emperor, and balls decorated with these symbols are thought to bring good luck and happiness to a marriage. In fact, almost all of the symbols most commonly associated with puzzle balls are associated with ensuring a long and happy marriage. Some balls even have different symbols on different layers, though the most common is a highly decorative outer ball and ‘latticed’ balls inside (with geometric patterns of holes)."

Detail of an ivory ball on show in the German Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum. It has 16 layers, which can spin. Courtesy Till Niermann , Wikipedia.

In the above image we see an example of Canton ivory carving. From Wikipedia (on the Lingnan culture or Cantonese culture). "Canton ivory woodcarving is another well-known product from Lingnan. With a history of 2000 years, it traditionally uses ivory as raw material to make sculptures, with the Canton-style renowned for being particularly delicate and detailed without being brittle. The Cantonese people have also successfully produced the legendary craft product - Ivory ball. After the 1980s, however, international ivory trade has been banned. This results in the Cantonese people now trying to find substitute materials - materials that look and feel like but are actually not ivory - in their attempt to pass on this ancient art."

From http://www.odditycentral.com/pics/chinese-puzzle-balls-the-rubiks-cube-of-the-ancient-world.html

"Chinese puzzle balls are ornate decorative items that consist of several concentric spheres, each of which rotates freely, carved from the same piece of material. ... These detailed works of art are usually made up of at least 3 to 7 layers, but the world’s largest puzzle ball is actually made of 42 concentric balls all enclosed one within the other. Although the inner balls can be manipulated to align all the holes, Chinese puzzle balls got their name from people who, through the ages, pondered the mystery of making such objects. So how exactly are puzzle balls made? .... Chinese masters rotate a solid ball on a lathe and start by drilling holes toward the center of the objects. Then, using special “L”-shaped tools, they begin to separate the innermost balls. ... Because it is easier to work with, the exterior shell is the most elaborately carved, usually featuring an intertwined dragon and a phoenix."

Antikitera.net tells us that the first puzzle balls appeared during the Song Dynasty, around 1000 d.C.

After having shown the Chinese ivory balls, it seems that the puzzle balls became popular in Europe thanks to Chinese products of the later XIXth century. However, puzzle balls existed in Europe in XVI or XVII century. Here an example.

European puzzle ball, XVI-XVII Century (Image Courtesy: Maureen and Renato Bucci, Italy). It was exhibited with a rosary having the beads made in the same manner of the ball.

The rosary, XVI-XVII Century (Image Courtesy: Maureen and Renato Bucci, Italy).

The ball shown in the image is remarkable because it looks like a Roman Dodecahedron. Actually Renato Bucci was so kind to send me the picture because of this similarity. Probably, this was an object of a Wunderkammer (in italiano, camera delle meraviglie o gabinetto delle curiosità o delle meraviglie), encyclopedic collections of objects of the Reinassance Europe. 

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_curiosities

"The Kunstkammer was regarded as a microcosm or theater of the world, and a memory theater. The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron's control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction."

Here an example of Kunstkammer

Let me conclude remarking that today puzzle balls are created too. Here the image of one of them, which is showing "puzzle dodecahedra". The artist that created it is Pierre Meyer is an artist who works with ivory. https://www.maitresdart.com/pierre_meyer-40/parcours_et_realisations.html

Pierre Meyer's ivory "puzzle dodecahedron".

Also "new production of ornamental turning ivory of '600" is evidenced by the works of Andrea Pacciani, architect in Parma, by the web https://www.etsy.com/it/listing/225172225/tornitura-ornamentale-da-un-modello-in. A piece "is inspired by a piece of the museum's collection of Rosenborg in Denmark (*). Another piece is inspiered to the drawings of Grollier de Serviere, (1596–1689), French inventor and ornamental turner. According to Andrea, "Thanks to the new generation of 3D technologies we could bring back the light of contemporary production about this object collection of great visual impact". That is, new technologies for creating objecs for our modern Wunderkammer.

(*) the reader can see the pieces at http://www.bobkatsjaunt.com/denmark.html.

A drawing from a book on the works of Grollier de Serviere

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Confronto fra l'Ultima Cena della Cappella Marchionale di Revello ed il Cenacolo di Leonardo da Vinci

Confronto fra l'Ultima Cena della Cappella Marchionale di Revello ed il Cenacolo di Leonardo da Vinci

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna 1 Lidia Dastrù 2 
Résumé : La Cappella Marchionale di Revello ha una delle sue pareti affrescate con un'Ultima Cena chiaramente ispirata al Cenacolo di Leonardo da Vinci. L'articolo confronta e discute brevemente queste due opere. Dall'impostazione generale dell'affresco di Revello e dai diversi dettagli che in esso fanno riferimento al Cenacolo appare molto plausibile che l'artista aveva visto direttamente l'opera di Leonardo e non una riproduzione a stampa. Una curiosità: l'affresco di Revello mostra che nei piatti sulla tavola dell'Ultima Cena c'era del pesce. Proprio la presenza del pesce sulla tavola del capolavoro di Leonardo è stata proposta dai ricercatori che hanno restaurato il Cenacolo.

Friday, August 25, 2017

La pietra verde del Viso

Dice Piero Barale, nel suo articolo UN REBUS AI PIEDI DEL MONVISO  che la valle Po, era già frequentata nel Neolitico dai “cercatori della pietra verde”, ossia di Pirosseni-Giadeite,  "materiale litico di elevata durezza che veniva estratto nei depositi alluvionali della valle". 

Più informazioni al sito

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Friday, December 27, 2013

Trundholm Sun Chariot and Langstrup Plate

Read please this post, very interesting

Les dues vides del Carro Solar de Trundholm, Publicat per Albert
títol del TREBALL DE FINAL DE GRAU,  carrera d'Humanitats  a la UNIVERSITAT POMPEU FABRA.
at http://alauniversitat.blogspot.it/2013/11/les-dues-vides-del-carro-solar-de.html

And also http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/bronze-age-calendar-120330.htm

See also: http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.2512
Ancient bronze disks, decorations and calendars, Amelia Carolina Sparavigna
(12 Mar 2012) Recently, it was published that some ancient bronze disks could had been calendars, that is, that their decorations had this function. Here I am discussing an example, the disk of the Trundholm Sun Chariot, proposing a new interpretation of it, giving a calendar of 360 days. Some geometric diagrams concerning the decoration layout are also proposed. Comments: Ancient calendars, ancient time-keeping, Bronze Age, Trundholm Sun Chariot
Cite as: arXiv:1203.2512 [physics.pop-ph]

See also http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.4103
Number pi from the decoration of the Langstrup plate, Amelia Carolina Sparavigna
(19 Mar 2012), Studies of ancient bronze artifacts can be useful in understanding the progression of human knowledge of mathematics and geometry. Here I discuss the decoration composed by several circles and spirals of the Langstrup belt disk, an artifact of the Bronze Age found in Denmark. I am showing by measurements of diameters and distances of spirals, that the artist who made the decoration knew some approximations by rational numbers of the number pi, the dimensionless physical quantity representing the ratio of circumference to diameter. Comments: Ancient measurements of pi as ratio of circumference and diameters, giving rational numbers,
Cite as: arXiv:1203.4103 [physics.pop-ph]

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Spirit of St. Louis

Courtesy: Britannica Kids

More at http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-59895/Charles-Lindbergh-stands-in-front-of-his-monoplane-the-Spirit

Monday, October 7, 2013

Music and dance

Music and dance, China

Museo Arte orientale Torino

Bo bell

Bronze bo bell, China, Shaanxi, Eastern Zhou, 5th Century BC 
Mueso Arte Orientale Torino

This bronze bell is known as a bo. It has a handle in the shape of two dragons. It is played with a hammer and plays two different notes depending on where it is struck.
More at BBC

Probably this is the component of a Bianzhong (simplified Chinese: 编钟; traditional Chinese: 編鐘), an ancient Chinese musical instrument consisting of a set of bronze bells. Below the Bianzhong of the Marquis Yi of Zeng.

Thanks Spiritia, Wikipedia

Leonardo da Vinci and the friction

Studies of Leonardo da Vinci on friction, from the Arundel Code.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Model of a watchtower, Henan, Eastern Han, second half of the 2nd century AD
Beige-pinkish earthenware with a pale green glaze

Museo d'Arte Orientale Torino

Friday, May 24, 2013


Da Wikipedia
"The linothorax is a modern term conventionally used to describe a type of upper body armor used by the Ancient Greeks, as well as other civilizations, from the Mycenaean Period through the Hellenistic Period. It is based on the Greek λινοθώραξ (in Homer λινοθώρηξ), which strictly is an adjective meaning "wearing a breastplate of linen" (and is not a noun meaning "linen armor" as often stated); the "linothorax" was made of linen, while a "thorax" was made of metal. The earliest attested account of a "linothorax" used for battle is recorded in Book 2 of Homer's Iliad (2.529 and 2.830). It is worn by Ajax the Lesser and is described in brief. Homer, composing long before the great armies of Athens, Thebes, Sparta or Alexander the Great, surely understood what the armor was. But the extent to which it was used can not be fully determined. An educated guess can be made, however, based on its use by Alexander the Great, and its mention by other sources such as Herodotus (2.182, 3.47, 7.63), Livy (4.19.2–20.7) and Strabo (Geography, 3.3.6, 13.1.10), and many others. The linothorax appears to have been used in place of the bronze 'bell cuirass' as the popular choice of armour for Greek hoplites, starting perhaps around the late seventh century and early sixth century B.C. Its high point, if vase paintings, sculptural reliefs and artistic depictions are to be believed, corresponds with the time of the Persian Wars. By the time of the Peloponnesian War it was still used, and continued to seemingly flourish well into the Hellenistic Period."

Friday, March 29, 2013


Johannes de Fontana: Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris
BSB Cod.icon. 242 Venedig 1420 - 1430