About Me

My photo
Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, October 01, 2016

ode "on a cat mummy"

In this gloriously odd vintage poem, a mummified puss leads the poet to muse upon the fall of empires and the ascendancy of Christianity.  Hang on for this ride through the ancient sands, won't you?

On a Cat Mummy.
PREPOSTEROUS cat, from Egypt's soil arisen,
Where thou hast lain beneath the sand seas flat,
The countless years had power thy face to wizen,
But not to wreck, for thou art still a cat.

I will not point at thee with jesting finger,
Nor pass thee by as though unworthy thought,
For there is much in thee to make me linger;
Those sightless eyes are with high meaning fraught.

'Tis hard indeed for modern thought or notion
To move along on ancient Koptic line,
Or hold, by any sort of weird devotion,
Grimalkin clothed in attributes divine.

We upstarts have a curious way of linking
Puss with old dames and flights upon a broom,
But Egypt's reverential mode of thinking
Ere Homer's day ran back to earlier gloom.

How very modern is our prophet Moses!
Our Christ himself but theme for recent talk,
While we are few when counted with the noses
That owned the sway of Horus and of hawk.

Five thousand years! The brain grows sick and dizzy.
But long ere then Phtah ruled beside the Nile,
And swarming millions, brown and blithe and busy,
Throve in the dreamy splendor of his smile.

Most ancient cat! When thou were swathed and twisted
In costly shroud and laid in sacred grave,
Apis and Pharaoh vainly were resisted,
And gentle Isis deigned to bless and save.

Those gods are dead, and faded is their splendor;
Their countless years are but a day that's done,
While Bethlehem's star, with radiance pure and tender,
Outshines in glory Egypt's fiercest sun.

The granite statue of sublime Rameses
On Memphis plain stands desolate to-day,
And years drift by, like summer's cloudy fleeces,
Forever changing and the same for aye.

Broad lotus leaves still on Nile's bosom quiver,
Still lives the Sphinx in many a Koptic face,
But never Pharaoh drifts across the river
In golden boat to his long resting-place.

O wondrous cat! Time leveled many a city,
Pantheons fell, great nations were forgot,
But thou wast hid, and now, in scorn and pity,
Comest to taunt me with my fleeting lot.

Out of my sight! I will no more abide thee.
Thy weird grotesqueness makes me chill and faint;
Thou art too hoar*; I cannot well deride thee,
But I will spurn thee ere I suffer taint.

Curse on those old Egyptians and their science!
Types live, and change doth keep this old world sweet.
We pass and come again: why bid defiance
To Nature, and be spurned beneath her feet?

Voices of nature join in ceaseless paean!
Death is but change and joyful motherhood;
And through the chorus whisper, Galilean,
"Why live at all except for doing good?"

*hoar: grayish-white, aged

- Horton, G. (1892). Songs of the lowly, and other poems. Chicago, F. J. Schulte & company. 124-6.  George Horton (1860-1942) was an author and journalist appointed by President Cleveland as consul to Athens.  At first glance I find his work earnestly likeable - here's the last stanza of his poem "To an English Sparrow," same book as above:

Your enemies say you're a fighter.
Ah well, what of that? So am I.
I will sing if 'tis darker or lighter
You have taught me a gay battle-cry.
When Fortune's against me, despite her
I will wait for the days that are brighter,
Singing " Cheer up! Cheer up! "
I will fight and will sing till I die.

Friday, September 30, 2016

puppy pugilists

The Proctor Stafford Collection, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch (M.86.296.207) www.lacma.org

Roughly 3 x 4.5 inches in size, these two little playfighters are still full of fun.  They're a more roughhewn, mini version of the polished and personality-filled dog-shaped vessels of Western Mexico's Colima culture (roughly 200 BC - 500 AD).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

sample dogs

Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: http://yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk :: CC BY-SA 4.0
1844, England: Emma Stead, age 12, works away on her sewing practice, creating this gorgeous sampler in colored wools on linen.
Perhaps these were the family dogs.  Excellent work.  I certainly couldn't stitch so finely.
To learn more about samplers, try this article at the Victoria & Albert Museum's website.

Monday, September 26, 2016

the fashionably dignified dog

From a book that supposedly discusses dogs of all nations (and then goes on to ignore most of said nations), here's some words on the Pekingese:

Color: All colors are allowable—red, fawn, black, black and tan, sable, brindle, white and parti colors. Those with black masks and “spectacles” around the eyes and lines to ears are the most appreciated.
Weight: A. 10 to 18 lbs.; B. Under 10 lbs.
This is probably the most fashionable pet dog now in vogue. His character is full of dignity and consummate pride, and disgust for anything menial or common. (?? - curator) His head is massive, broad, wide and flat between the ears and eyes. The eyes should be large, dark, prominent, round and lustrous. “Stop” deep. Ears heart-shaped, drooping and well feathered. Muzzle very short, broad and wrinkled. He has a heavy—fronted body and light hind quarters, and the great coat on the frill and neck give him a lion-like appearance. The coat should be long, straight and flat, with dense under-coat and well feathered on thighs, legs, tail and toes.

-- from Mason, W. Esplin. (1915). Dogs of all nations. [San Francisco?]: [publisher not identified]. 99.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

raminou parks it

thanks wikiart.org (PD)
1920, Paris: Suzanne Valadon decides to paint some luscious folds and rich colors, but how to set them off perfectly?  No worries.  As any cat knows, what better foil for fine textiles than fur?  You must agree with me that her trusty frequent model, Raminou the ginger cat, appears most assured that a cat's place is dead center.  Valadon (1865-1938) is generally associated with the French Post-Impressionsts, such as Toulouse-Lautrec; this movement in a nutshell rolled together what the artist wanted to see with what he or she felt about it.  So not so much about verisimilitude; here I believe it's more about the sheer fun of tackling these intricate drapings and jewelled colors, and another great excuse to take - make - a picture of the cat.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

christina rossetti's "a word for the dumb"

A Word for the Dumb
Pity the sorrows of a poor old Dog
Who wags his tail a-begging in his need:
Despise not even the sorrows of a Frog,
God's creature too, and that's enough to plead:
Spare Puss who trusts us purring on our hearth:
Spare Bunny once so frisky and so free:
Spare all the harmless tenants of the earth:
Spare, and be spared:--or who shall plead for thee?

 - Christina Rossetti, a powerful poet and a sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

vintage wordless wednesday

purchased eureka ca 2012