posts tagged "world"

atlasobscura:

Morbid Monday: Resurrection Through Decomposition 

For some cultures, death is the beginning of a purification process that starts with decomposition and ends with skeletonization. These people believe that when a loved one takes his or her final breath, it is the beginning of a journey to the land of the ancestors, and the corpse must completely decay before a soul is considered purified and can ascend to the afterlife.

There are typically two burial phases in some of these societies: initial and secondary burial. During the first, or initial, burial, the body may be buried or exposed while it decays, and the funeral ceremony during this phase marks the beginning of the soul’s journey. Once the remains are completely skeletonized, the bones are collected, cleaned, and placed in a secondary burial, like an ossuary. At this point the deceased is considered truly dead and the soul is resurrected to join the rest of their ancestors in the Land of the Dead.

Secondary burials have been practiced by many cultures throughout history into the modern era. Below is a discussion of burials customs of Jews of the early Roman Empire; burial customs of Southern Italy that were practiced until the early 20th century; and the Malagasy famadihana, or turning of the bones, which is practiced today.

The Jews of the early Roman Empire practiced a burial custom called ossilegium between 30 BCE and 70 CE. Ossilegium, a Latin word that means the collection of the bones, was a two-part process.

Keep reading for the full rundown of resurrection through decomposition, on Atlas Obscura!

jnenifre:

From Facebook

After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women. Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family. Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?” As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention. Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school. To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math

jnenifre:

From Facebook

After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women. 

Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family. 

Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. 

Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”

After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?” 

As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”

In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention. 

Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school. 

To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/

To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/

For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281

To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229

And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math

stories-yet-to-be-written:

The Best Pictures Of This Year’s Japanese Cherry Blossoms

The Japanese cherry blossom, known as the Sakura in Japanese, is the flower of a cherry tree that is cultivated for its decorative features rather than for cherries (it doesn’t bear fruit). The overwhelming beauty of the cherry blossom bloom has been known and adored for ages. The blooming period is associated with Japanese traditions, culture, aesthetics, and is a bittersweet metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life itself.

The blooming cherry blossoms herald the beginning of the centuries-old Hanami festival – the traditional Japanese custom of picnicking under trees rich with flowering Sakura branches and enjoying this short but striking first breath of spring. The blossoming wave usually starts in Okinawa in January or February and progresses through all of Japan until April or May. The cherry blossom front (Sakura zensen) can be conveniently tracked every year using this calendar.

Source: Demilked Magazine

gaymanga:

Billboard for ViiV Healthcare in Shinjuku Ni-chome (pre-censorship)
Artwork by Poko Murata (村田ポコ)

In December 2013, gay artist Poko Murata was hired to make artwork for a billboard promoting HIV awareness in Tokyo’s gay neighborhood, Shinjuku Ni-chome (新宿二丁目). Now, the billboard has been censored by decree of the Shinjuku ward office, which asserted that Murata’s artwork runs contrary to “public order and morality” (公序良俗). Murata made a revised version of the image, seen above, which was also rejected by the government office because it contained “visible underwear.” Poko Murata rightly calls out the decision as gay discrimination on his blog, and one only needs to glimpse the motorized sex robot advertisements that float around Shinjuku to sense a double standard at play. 

It was an event of no minor significance that Murata’s artwork found its way onto a billboard to begin with. Male-male eroticism once played a significant role in Japanese culture— in the Edo period, a booming print industry allowed for erotic “shunga” woodblock prints, as well as an entire genre of literature about male-male sexuality, to flourish. In the wake of the Meiji Restoration, and throughout most of the 20th century, that history was swept under the rug of “old Japan” in the name of rapid Westernization. Gay artists sought refuge in the small-circulation “perverse magazines” of the post-war era, and their pieces were displayed not publically, in museums, but on the walls of gay establishments in neighborhoods like Shinjuku Ni-chome. 

Gay artwork began edging out of the shadows in the the 1970s, when Barazoku (薔薇族) magazine became the first mass market gay publication in Japan. The early days of Barazoku weren’t easy— frequent police interference resulted in writers, artists and the magazine’s publisher being charged with crimes of obscenity by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s “public morals” office. Never defined explicitly by Japanese law, “obscenity” in practice often comes down to the visibility of genitals, which explains the various self-censoring techniques employed by the publishers of gay manga. Those thin black lines are there for a reason, namely police intimidation. 

Since the ‘90s, Japanese gay artwork has started to surpass the boundaries of the gay press. The BDSM manga of Gengoroh Tagame (田亀源五郎) and the comic essays of Kumada Poohsuke (熊田プウ助), among others, have reached a broader audience within mainstream Japanese culture. This doesn’t mean the situation is any less dire for artists who dare to show just a little too much male skin. In April 2013, fashion photographer Leslie Kee was targeted in a sweeping censorship dragnet by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, after Kee published a series of nude photos of late porn star Koh Masaki. The police arrested Kee, his gallerist, his publisher, and even the 61-year-old manager of Lumiere (ルミエール), the famous gay bookstore in Shinjuku Ni-chome. 

Amidst this climate of censorship, Poko Murata’s artwork being featured on a billboard seems like a truly extraordinary thing. In a post about the billboard on his blog, artist Yuji Kato (加藤悠二) characterizes Murata’s artwork as humorous, yet refined— charming, with a little sex appeal. Murata’s pieces are generally upbeat, flirty, and heartwarming. He’s contributed to sexual health awareness campaigns before, including two campaigns for Quality of Gay Life (QOGL), put on by the Japanese non-profit Tokyo Gay Friends for AIDS. Kato calls Murata’s work for HIV awareness part of “a growing desire,” on the part of gay artists, “to contribute in their own way to the gay community.” You can see evidence of this encouraging trend in the efforts of artists like Gengoroh Tagame, Inu Yoshi and Jiraiya, who have all contributed artwork to causes promoting sexual health. 

While the billboard in Shinjuku Ni-chome is ostensibly a public service announcement about HIV awareness, it’s really an ad for ViiV, “a pharmaceutical manufacturer that specializes in the development and sale of HIV treatments,” owned by GlaxoSmithKline. Late last year, ViiV announced Poko Murata as the winner of a contest to illustrate the billboard for the first six months of 2014, with an artist yet to be chosen to decorate the ad space in the second half of 2014. 

Murata’s resulting image is notable for including a variety of gay types: a gachimuchi (ガチムチ) central figure, a middle-aged “ossan” (おっさん), a chubbier “debu” (デブ) figure, even a couple of bishonen boys. Their arrangement is casual yet provocative. It seems to imply, without judgement, that these people could have sex in any number of non-heteronormative configurations. It’s an ad about HIV that doesn’t stigmatize sexuality or shame the gay community. Almost immediately after the billboard went up, the Shinjuku Ward Office targeted the advertisement, alleging complaints from local residents about the “unpleasant” artwork.

Poko Murata was not included in discussions between the ad agency and the government office. He’s told they were given an ultimatum by the Shinjuku officials: “accept the guidance of public office in order to continue the project beyond two terms.” After his revised version of the ad was once again rejected, the agency further covered up the central figure in Murata’s drawing. “The final adjustments were not by my hand,” he writes.

Murata sees this interference with his artwork as indicative of systemic prejudice and discrimination against gays, and reflective of the larger problem of excessive regulation in Japan today (see also: the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s excellent pieces about the increased censorship crackdown in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics). The incident has soured what should have been a positive experience, leaving Murata disappointed, full of anger and chagrin. He predicts the second term of ViiV’s billboard project will be met with much more scrutiny and restraint by the ad agency. 

Ultimately, the incident amounts to little more than a multinational pharmaceutical company bowing to the pressure of the Japanese government’s homophobic politics, alienating the drug company’s target audience along the way. Poko Murata was given an opportunity to spotlight gay artwork in a public space, and it was immediately covered up by the very officials who are supposed to be representing the gayest ward in Tokyo. 

365daysofhorror:

Stunning photos of Poveglia - the most haunted place in the world - which is now up for sale by the Italian government. Photos include the mass graves of plague victims, the skull of a “vampire” with a rock shoved in it’s mouth to keep it from biting people, and the collapsing ruins of the insane asylum.

"A quarantine station, a dumping ground for plague victims, more recently a mental hospital — the tiny island of Poveglia in the Venice Lagoon has served many unpleasant purposes over the years, but today it stands empty, a crumbling collection of abandoned buildings and weeds run riot just two miles from the glittering palaces of the Grand Canal. Legends and rumors about Poveglia are nearly as pervasive as the weeds, and they read like a horror story: that so many people were burned and buried there during the black plague that the soil is 50% human ash; that local fishermen give the island a wide berth for fear of netting the wave-polished bones of ancestors; that the psychiatrist who ran the mental hospital was a butcher and torturer who went mad from guilt and threw himself from the island’s belltower, only to survive the fall and be strangled by a "ghostly mist" that emerged from the ground."

englishsnow:

Ireland by florescent

valnon:

A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia
via BBC
Photos by Asher Svidensky, Article by William Kremer

Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill - and he also photographed Ashol-Pan. “To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”… He describes Ashol-Pan as a smiling, sweet and shy girl. His photographs of her engaging in what has been a male activity for around 2,000 years say something about Mongolia in the 21st Century.

The eagles are not bred in captivity, but taken from nests at a young age. Female eaglets are chosen since they grow to a larger size - a large adult might be as heavy as seven kilos, with a wingspan of over 230cm. After years of service, on a spring morning, a hunter releases his mature eagle a final time, leaving a butchered sheep on the mountain as a farewell present.

(More pictures and photos at the link.)

awkwardsituationist:

to mark world theatre day, held on march 27, one hundred young syrians from jordan’s zaatari refugee camp acted in an adapted production of king lear. the play — which tells a story of exile, of a ruler losing touch with reality, and of a land divided by rival groups — was directed was nawar bulbul (third photo), a popular syrian actor who fled his country after appearing in anti government protests.

"i wanted to show that these children are not worthless …that they have something real to contribute." he said. “the show is meant to bring back laughter, joy and humanity” and "help [the children] express themselves." the kids — all under the age of fifteen — were actively involved in the costuming, for example.

many of the children cried when they heard the applause of onlookers at the play’s end. said one child, “i do not feel lonely any more in this place.” their parents described the project as a rare point of light in a bleak camp existence. after the show, they boasted of their children’s talent.

the production, months in the planning, was also meant to help counteract the effects of a war that has caused young syrians to miss vital years of education. about 60,000 of the refugees at the zaatari camp are younger than eighteen, and fewer than a quarter regularly attend school. many fear the war is creating a lost generation of children.

photos are by warrick page for the new york times and jared kohler for unhcr. for more on syria’s refugee crisis, see #withsyria, care international, oxfam syria crisis appeal, human care syria and free syrian voices

(it’s interesting to note that shakespeare actually mentions the city of aleppo in macbeth, which serves as a reminder that syria is one of our oldest centers of civilization.)

mingsonjia:

冬日莫愁湖

Winter Scenery of Mochou Lake, Nanjing City, China