Monday, February 27, 2012

Dragons at the Textile Museum

Last week I went to the Textile Museum in DC.  It is near many of the embassies and in fact seems a little smaller than the embassies of Puerto-Rico and Ireland.

I explored the exhibit Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep.  It was about the use of dragon imagery in clothing, rugs, and other textiles. Celebrating the Year of the Dragon, most of the textiles shown are from East and Southeast Asia Chinese.  In addition to images of a variety of dragons including highly stylized versions, there were also images of other mystical creatures.

I was fascinated by the idea that a particular portrayal of dragons could indicate the social class of the wearer of a textile garment.  The example presented at the museum was a surcoat depicting numerous images of dragons with four claws on each hand.  The annotation on the side explained that the hands had originally had five claws, indicating that the owner was of the ruling family.  When he or she gave it to someone who was not authorized to wear five claws, one claw on each hand had to be carefully removed from the coat.

After investigating the museum, I ate lunch in a nearby park with two fellow homeschoolers with whom I had gone to the museum.  A lovely day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Biblical Reference of the Week

This semester I am reading the Hebrew Bible (known to many as the Old Testament).  A friend of mine and our mothers are reading the book looking at both its history and its literary influence.  We are not reading it in a religious or devotional way at all.

One of our regular assignments is to look for Biblical references that pop up around us in modern Western culture.  Here is one of the references I discovered this week:

In Howard Goodall's Big Bangs, a fantastic documentary about the development of western music, the host uses a reference to "forbidden fruit" while talking about the evolution of harmony into what became classical music.  He said that composers were quick to snatch the forbidden fruit of thirds and sixths--forbidden because they did not work neatly in the musical system that governed religious music (plain chant).  This, of course, is a reference to the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pen of Power

I saw a fascinating video on a pen that writes with electrical ink.  The pen was created by researchers at the University of Illinois.  It writes with silver ink that drys to form conductive "wires" that can be hooked up to a battery.  Because the drawn circuits are both quick to create and flexible, the technology could be very useful for electrical engineers.

In an article about the pen, I read that it was used to make a copy of a Chinese panting called Sae-Han-Do. The ink provided power for LEDs placed in the panting.  I thought that the ability to create "lit-up" drawings could be very powerful if used well.  For example, someone could draw a Statue of Liberty where the torch actually burns with light.  It would be fun to create drawings like these.  I wonder if the pens will be available commercially.