12/22/2008

Pop-culture woman of the week - Rinoa Heartilly

Name: Rinoa Heartilly (リノア・ハーティリー Rinoa Hātirī)
First appearance: Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
Creator: Tetsuya Nomura
Weapon/ability: Blaster edge
Race:
Human
Age:
17 years old

Rinoa is the out-spoken, head-strong, emotional female protagonist of the eighth Final Fantasy game to hit the market. She is the obvious opposite of the male protagonist - Squall Leonhart (a sure sign that love will develop).

She enters the story at the SeeD celebration party, coming to the school were the other main characters get trained for combat - an event she participates in to get a chance to speak to the head-master. She wants to hire some SeeDs to help her with her task of helping out the Timber Owls - a resistance group which she is leading (though not very successfully - and things get even worse once they try to help out).

But in spite of her short-comings in this episode, she is willing to learn and to help were she can, so she tags along for the rest of the adventure - which is not always such a good thing as she gets possessed, and at one time almost get thrown into outer space and has to be saved from time to time.

Rinoa spends most of her time wearing black shorts with a short, blue denim skirt on top of, a halter-neck top and a knitted, long, sleeveless blue duster sweater - with white wings on the back. But the first time Squall meets her she is wearing a light yellow cocktail-dress.

(She is actually the daughter of the woman that Squall's father had a crush on - before he met the woman that would become the mother of his child.)

12/20/2008

Photo of the week - Marie Jensen

Date: 1907
Photographer: Emil Clausen
Sitter: Marie Jensen
Provenience: Copenhagen, Denmark

This is a photo of the Danish woman Marie Jensen, taken in 1907, at a Copenhagen photo-studio. The somewhat unusual shape of the photo is due to it being cut - probably to suit a frame (the most common reason for old photos being 'resized').

The sitter makes a rather simple, but very neat, impression. Her hair is combed up, but not into such big waves as could be popular at this time. Her blouse has a high collar and is decorated with hem-stitching in a quite intricate pattern. She does not wear any visible jewellery.

On the back of the card is written, with a pencil, in Danish "Til min søster Stine fra Marie 1907." [To my sister Stine [probably short for Christine] from Marie 1907.] A later writing adds "Marie Jensen Datter af [daughter of] N.P. Jensen Thisted [a town on the Danish peninsula Jutland], born in 1882.

If anyone should happen to know anything more about this woman I would be very happy to know - so far my research has given no results. For example it could be interesting to know how it is that this photo was taken in Copenhagen when she came from a small town many miles away - if it is, as is most likely, that she had moved to the Danish capital for some reason. She does not seem to be married, at least not at the time of the when the picture was taken, since the second note on the back most likely would have mentioned that - and whoever made that note was not her sister Stine but some third party who knew who she was, but who was not an immediate family.

12/18/2008

Hair-do of the week - French women in 1900


This picture is from the French publication "La Coiffure Francaise Illustrée", from 1900. This Victorian and Edwardian magazine showed the hair-dos done by different French (or perhaps more correctly Parisian) hair-dressers. In this case the creator is Georges Girard - of course working from Paris.

The hair-dos of the late 19th century and early 20th century could be quite intricate. When looking at photos from the time they often come across as much simpler though, all the hair combed up to make a big bun on top of the head, but when the time, money and occasion allowed it things could get much more artistic - with curls and ornaments all over the place (which must have made them quite heavy and cumbersome to wear).

But they all have one thing in common - even with much simpler hair-dos of the time - and that is that they were based on the idea that the hair should be up, as up as it could possibly be, and as little as possible should be hanging down. At the bottom pictures (that shows the same hair-do from different angels) you can see some curls hanging down at the back of the neck, but that is all. It was much more alright for the hair to hang down around the forehead - and the hair-dos were not really made for wearing a hat. Hats were still a must for all proper ladies, so this could be seen as a sure sign that the coiffures shown here were made for either special hats, suitable for the occasion (as in the upper left corner) or made for evening-wear when hats were not present. The more ordinary hair-dos were, on the other hand, perfect for placing a big hat on top of.

12/08/2008

That again

December is always a month when much to do and little time for blogging - and things will not get better this coming week since I will be going to London. But I will return, and so will the posts on this blog.

Take care!

12/07/2008

Portrait of the week - Woman in the green dress (Camille)


This is the painting Woman in the green dress by the painter Claude Monet, done in 1866. It is also known as Camille.

The painting is one of the Monet's earlier works, and the one that would grant him national fame - though the style of the painting has little to do with impressionism and the technique that would make him famous.

The woman is dressed in a dress striped in green and black, with a train and of a rather light fabric - that looks like silk, but considering the financial situation in which it was painted it is not that likely the original was made in that material. Over the dress she is wearing a jacket with fur trimmings. On her head she is wearing a small hat - just as if she was ready to walk out the door at any moment.

The woman is Camille Doncieux, Monet's first wife. She was born in 1847. She met the painter in 1865 and became the artist's mistress and model. She was from a poor background and Monet's father refused to let them get married for just that reason. In 1867 she gave birth to the son Jean. In 1870 the couple got married anyway. In 1877 she gave birth to the couple's second child, the son Michel. But by now Camille's health was deteriorating, and she died in 1879 - just 32 years old. Her husband had probably started a liaison with the woman that was to become his second wife, Alice Hoschedé, before Camille's death.

12/05/2008

Goddess of the week - Sif

Name: Sif
Sphere of influence: Relationships
Location: Scandinavia
Famous portraits: None contemporary

The name Sif means "in-law-relationship" and in all probability her function as a goddess could be found in that name - though it is not entirely clear, she is not that frequent in the Nordic sagas.

The goddess Sif is the wife of the thunder-god Thor in Norse Mythology. With him she has the daughter Thrud (Þrúðr - meaning "strength" and "woman") and from some previous relationship she has the son Ullr ("glory"). The father of that child is unknown, and Thor is referred to as being a step-father - that is all we know on that subject.

Sif is mentioned in both the Poetic Edda (written in the 13th century - but based on elder sources) and the Prose Edda (written in the 13th century by Snorre Sturluson).

Sif's hair is golden - the god Loki cuts it off once when the goddess was sleeping, but he is caught (and threatened) by her husband Thor, and Loki promises to replace her hair, and commissions a net of pure gold to be made for her head. When she put it on it the golden hair got stuck to her head - and replaced her own hair so that she actually had hair made of pure gold.

The talk of her golden hair, and the golden hair being cut, has made some scholars talk about Sif being some kind of fertility goddess - and her hair being a symbol for the growing fields, cut down when ripe. But this is a rather modern theory that has little to do with actual evidence from ancient sources.

The portrait here of Sif is made by Jenny Nyström.

12/02/2008

Women of the week - Sigrid Storråda

Name: Sigrid Storråda
Born: Circa 955(?), Sweden
Died: Circa 1010(?)
Married to: 1. Erik Segersäll
2. Svend Tveskägg (Fork-beard)
Children: At least three sons
Occupation: Queen

To be quite honest, the authenticity of this woman has been disputed, and the jury is still out on whether or not she really existed - but today's historians generally seem to believe there might be some truth to her existence.

Sigrid is mentioned in the Icelandic sagas, but not Adam of Bremen who lived closer in time (but perhaps could not always keep straight the complicated family relations among the Nordic kings) - but how much of what is written there is a historical truth is open for debate.

She is supposed to have been the daughter of a local noble man, Skoglar Toste, but her birth-date is unknown. Somewhere around 975 she married the Swedish king Erik Segersäll (the victorious) and with him she got a couple, or so, children - among them Olof, who would later get the epithet Skötkonung (the meaning of this word is unclear). But Erik was not happy with his wife and divorced her - for unknown reasons, it was obviously not because she could not have children. She would later remarry, this time the king of Denmark Svend Fork-beard, and is supposed to be the mother of Canute the Great.

A couple of legends connected to Sigrid includes one that says that she was engaged to be married to Olav I of Norway. But things came to an end when she told him that she refused to become a Christian. He then hit her and said he refused to marry a heathen. After this she became a bitter enemy of the man and persuaded both her second husband and her son Olof to go to war against Olav - which would eventually end with the death of the Norwegian king. It is unclear if it should be seen as a twist of irony or a sign that the story really can not be true, since her own son was the first Swedish king to become Christian (and remain that till his death). Another story tells about how Sigrid, after being divorced from her first husband, got courted by minor kings - which annoyed her and in the end she had a couple of them killed through burning down the house they were staying in. That kept unwanted suitors away from her - though obviously not Svend.

Her epithet 'Storråda' means the one that makes great plans. In English she is often referred to as 'the Haughty' - based on her actions.