Fables & Gables

436 notes


The Monastery at Debre Damo is a 6th century basilica that was founded by the Syrian monk Abba Aregawi on top of a mountain near Adigrat, Ethiopia.

British architect D.H. Matthews led the restoration of the monastery in the 1950s. The building is composed of wood and limestone bricks, and contains original carved wood ceiling panels and Axumite relics (the icons were painted later).

(via artofthedarkages)

Filed under Ethiopia Monastery Architecture 6th Century Religion Christianity

891 notes

Pocket Guide to some of the claims Tumblr blog medievalpoc IS and IS NOT making



medievalpoc is NOT claiming:

  • that in mediaeval Europe, there were lots of people of colour everywhere
  • that perceptions of race have always been the same, everywhere
  • that fantasy and historical fiction and games should focus exclusively on people of colour, no white characters allowed any more
  • that all important inventions and achievements were the work of POC and white people have never done anything cool 
  • that everything on their blog is about the mediaeval period because the word ‘medieval’ is in the URL
  • that everything on their blog is 100% accurate
  • that Beethoven was totally black, you guys.

medievalpoc IS claiming:

  • that throughout the history of Europe, people of colour have been present in various places at various times, some as visitors, some as residents, and contemporary works of art provide evidence of this. This is because international trade, travel and migration have always been part of human life. There was never a time when Europe was exclusively white-populated and had no contact with other parts of the world. 
  • perceptions of race have changed over time and are different in different cultures; they are observing from the perspective of an American applying Critical Race Theory to art history and historiography
  • 'historical accuracy' is not a valid reason to have no POC characters in fantasy and historical fiction and games. For many times and places, it would be more accurate to include some. It is not fair or honest for white people to claim ownership of Europe’s history and mythology and exclude POC. Diversity makes these genres more interesting, and enjoyable for more people.
  • POC have been responsible for many noteworthy inventions and achievements, but in the teaching of history and art history in the United States of America (the blogger can only comment on the education system with which they are familiar), they are frequently minimised or left out altogether. This is wrong and needs to be remedied, because it is unfair to students of colour and reinforces racism in white students.
  • their blog started out focusing on mediaeval depictions of POC and then grew; also, terms like ‘mediaeval’ and divisions of history into distinct periods are artificial and applied by modern historians. They can create a false impression in students that history happened in neatly compartmentalised stages. That doesn’t mean they are useless terms but we need to be aware of it when we use them.
  • that they are as capable of error as anyone else and accept corrections and clarifications. It’s just that ‘everyone knows’ is not valid supporting evidence for a correction. They provide links to sources for their claims and expect anyone disagreeing with them to do the same. Some of their sources are in conflict with each other. This reflects the fact that the writing of history is not objective and unified.
  • some people who knew Beethoven when he was alive commented in surviving documents that he sure looked black to them. There is no possible way of knowing what race Beethoven would be considered (or would identify as) if he were alive today. This is interesting! Nobody should feel threatened by it.

No idea if anything specific prompted this post but I mostly agree with it. I especially appreciate the summary of the whole Beethoven thing, that gets out of hand pretty quickly and no one can seem to stay grounded in what the conversation’s actually about.

Filed under if you were confused medievalpoc is a great blog blogs scholarship

20 notes

Scenes from the Life of Christ - Unknown Artist, ca. 850

Ivory: Height: 22.2 cm, Width: 13.3 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Ivory panel divided into eight compartments each separated and surrounded by intricate foliage borders with large rosettes at the intersections. The scenes from top left are: Joseph’s Dream, the Flight into Egypt; the Massacre of the Innocents; Rachel weeping for her Child; Christ brought into the Temple by His Parents; Christ among the Doctors; the Miracle at Cana and an extension of the last scene, the wine brought to the Master of the Feast (2 scenes). [x]

(Source: collections.vam.ac.uk)

Filed under Art history Art Ivory Relief Medieval Religion Christianity Jesus Christ 9th Century

5 notes

The Mystic marriage of St Catherine - Unknown German Artist, ca. 1680-1700

Ivory in a wood frame overlaid with silver, toroise shell and ivory stained green,  Height: 30 cm, Width: 20 cm

Relief in ivory in a wood frame overlaid with silver, tortoise shell and ivory stained green. The Virgin, seated on clouds upheld by an angel, holds the Child who places the ring on the hand of St. Catherine who, wearing a crown and rich garments with pearls, bends forward holding a sword. Below is an angel holding a broken wheel; above, among clouds, are three angels, one of whom holds a wreath over St. Catherine’s head. [x]

Filed under Art History Ivory Relief Religion Germany 17th Century Wood Silver Christianity Virgin Mary Jesus Christ Saints Saint Catherine