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September 26, 2011

"The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen From the Isle of Lewis"


The above-titled show opens November 15, 2011 in The Cloisters Museum and Gardens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


From the top down: Bishop, King, Warder, group portrait.


The Met's description of the show follows.

In 1831, a hoard of luxury goods—including more than seventy chess pieces and several other objects, all made of carved walrus ivory and dating from the twelfth century—was unearthed on the Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland. The chess pieces (thereafter known as the Lewis Chessmen), which come from at least four distinct, but incomplete sets, are arguably the most famous chess pieces in the world today, and are among the icons of the collections of the British Museum in London and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. For this exhibition, more than thirty chessmen from the collection of the British Museum will be shown at The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. This represents the first time such a large ensemble of the chessmen has traveled outside the United Kingdom. After the showing in New York, they will return to London.

The Lewis chessmen are generally believed to have been made in Norway. Stylistic similarities to sculpture point specifically to the Norwegian city of Trondheim, as does archaeological evidence of workshops for the carving of walrus ivory. At the time that the chessmen were carved, the seat of political and ecclesiastical control of the Isle of Lewis was in Norway, and shipping lanes from Norway to Ireland went past the Outer Hebrides. The Lewis hoard may represent a merchant's wares, lost or abandoned on the isle in the twelfth century.

Each of the pieces is a delightful sculpture in miniature, with a specific, individualized character. The kings all sit with their swords on their laps, but some have long hair and beards, and others are clean shaven. The knights wear distinct headgear, carry different shields, and ride different shaggy ponies. Among the warders (rooks) in the exhibition, who are represented as foot soldiers, one bites the top of his shield, barely containing his frenzied eagerness for battle. Scholars have identified such figures as berserkers (the soldiers of Odin from Norse mythology), known from the Heimskringla—the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway—of the poet Snorri Sturluson (ca. 1179–1241).

The exhibition at The Cloisters, in the center of the Romanesque Hall, will take the form of the endgame of a famous chess match. The fallen pieces, organized by type, will be displayed in auxiliary cases along the edges of the room. Examples of medieval chessmen from the Metropolitan's main building will also be displayed nearby.

The game of chess is believed to have originated in India in the sixth century A.D., and to have spread west first through Persia, and then through the Islamic territories, until it reached Europe. As played today, chess is an important legacy of the Middle Ages. The piece in the form of an elephant in Indian chess was transformed into a bishop of the church in medieval Europe. And the piece that accompanied the king—his advisor or vizier—became the queen. The Lewis Chessmen are among the earliest examples in which both bishops and queens are found. Although they are now all white, some of the Lewis Chessmen were stained red, according to an early report. (The use of black and white chess pieces did not become standard until later.)


More about the Lewis Chessmen here and here.


September 26, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Handcuffs Ring


By Natalie Hirsh.

[via Fancy]

September 26, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How to spot a Terminator



September 26, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



By Hideo Kanbara.

From the website: "The plug of an outlet is indeed the motif for this pin. The plug-like shape allows paper and objects to be fixed in place without falling or turning. Morover, the pin is easier to insert and pull out."

I do like the fact that unlike standard pushpins, this design stabilizes whatever is held in precisely the orientation you placed it in.

There's a lot to be said for maintaining proper orientation.

But I digress.


$6.50 for five pins.

September 26, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Draw a stickman

Screen Shot 2011-09-24 at 9.53.02 AM

Don't click on the picture, sillybilly: try here instead.


There goes the day.

Depending on your level of engagement, of course.

[via Joe Peach who added, "There goes a few minutes...." Speak for yourself, Joe.]

September 26, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Feeling Egg Bath Chromatherapy Lights


From the website:


Feeling Egg is a home lifestyle light from Japan that is the exact size and shape of a real egg, but emits relaxing LED lighting in four separate colors.

Feeling Egg is waterproof, making it perfect in a bathtub, shower, sink, hot tub, or anywhere else you want to add brilliant color.

Use a blue egg next to the bed before sleep, or a red egg in your car's cupholder to add some ambiance.

The bright LED light is powerful, yet saves power well, and fades in and out to create a relaxing effect. 



• 4 Feeling Eggs — Red, Blue, Green and Orange

• 3 LR44 button batteries (included) power each

• Eggs come in plastic egg carton packaging




September 26, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

bookofjoe correspondent invited to dinner at Antilia — Mumbai home of Mukesh Ambani


Alas, she's having visa issues so her husband is going without her.

From an October 2010 post in HomesDeco: "You probably wondered who is the owner of this high building [above], didn't you? Now, it's time you found out that this great and unique building belongs to the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, who made real estate history when he announced Antilia, a twenty-seven-floor building 560 feet (173 m) high that he is now ready to move into. This unique residence, which cost over $1 billion dollars (U.S.), making it the most expensive residential building in the world, will serve as a housing complex for the Ambani family. It was the Leighton Holdings Group who constructed this marvel, being inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and naming it Antilia after the mythical island."


"The complex has a home theater, six floors of parking, swimming pools, health spa, three helipads, three floors of hanging gardens and a ballroom. But this great building needs a lot of people in order to meet the residents' requirements — there are 600 full-time employees who provide the building’s services!"

September 26, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pocket Calculator


2-line display, currency conversions, compartment for business and credit cards.

3.62" x 2.8".



September 26, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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