Thursday, 20 December 2012

A small word about time and some museum goodies

It appears that there are many people out there under the impression that tomorrow is the end of time (or the world anyway), or at least a much more eventful day than normal. Who knows, I'm personally doubting it. I was having a quick look at the Mayan calendar to see what it's all about and, in a nut shell, it seems to amount to this -

20 K'in (those are days to you and me) equal a Winal.
18 Winals make a Tun (360 k'ins or about a year or so)
20 Tuns make a K'atun
20 K'atuns make a B'ak'tun (144000 k'ins or about 394 years)

Now it's a B'ak'tun that we're about to come to the end of and people are getting all excited about. It's the end of the 13th b'ak'tun and the start of the 14th b'ak'tun. It's a bit more than a century granted but less than a millennium and we've already got through one of those fairly painlessly. The calendar certainly doesn't end tomorrow because -
20 B'ak'tun make up a Piktun
and so it goes through Kalabtuns, K'inchiltuns to Alautun

Sticking with time for a moment, the Museum in Edinburgh have laid their hands on a very fancy clock. It is called the Chronophage or time eater, designed by Dr John C Taylor (who invented the switch that turns off your kettle when it boils). I saw one very similar (perhaps the same one but I don't think so) in Cambridge where Dr Taylor studied. The time can be told by the little blue lights that move round it ( the beasty on top moves rather creepily too) I read, though I certainly had no idea. Every hour a chain is dropped into an unseen coffin shaped box round the back making what I can only describe as a clunk.

This bowl was made in Arizona in around the 12th century AD.

Another piece of pottery from the Americas before Europeans stumbled upon them. This one is older than the last, around the 5 century, from Nasca Peru.

Also from Nasca, this one is 6th century.

A little East Mediterranean glass oil jar from the 6th to the 4th century BC

A Roman glass flask made between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD

A lovely little silver box with enamels painted on copper made by brook and sons between 1927 and 1928.

This enamel on copper of Christ was made by Alexander Fisher in 1897. It cost all of £25 pounds then.

A delightfully daft plate featuring a donkey playing a lute (and singing along too I'll wager) from Deruta in Italy, somewhere between 1520 and 1560.

In a completely different museum, this arrowhead has been mounted in silver can be found in Kirkcudbright. Now would you say it's an ancient thing for the arrowhead, or much newer for the silver frame it's built into.

I'll finish with this Rhinoceros - it's probably the oldest thing in the post (perhaps more so than the arrowhead), dating back to the 11 century BC. It is late Shang dynasty Chinese and belongs to Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I haven't seen it in person, I have yet to find my way across the Atlantic. This was on a number of postcards I received in a letter - e mails are great, but there's still something special about having something drop through the letterbox that has actually come from the person sending it.


Poppy (aka Val) said...

Thanks for the explanation regarding the Mayan calendar, I can't pronounce the words, but it does explain why I had heard that we were coming to the end of a 400 year cycle (yours is more accurate)and starting a new cycle!
I think that clock is pretty creepy, that creature on top would give me the creeps!!
Great blog as always :)
Hoping you have a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year :)

Ellie said...

Well that Mayan calendar has just totally confused me - to many difficult words in there for me :)
I've got a night out tomorrow night so hopefully I'll get to enjoy it without anything to exciting happening!!
You have some interesting items to show today - I don't think I fancy having a clock with a huge beast on it but it is quite interesting. :)

Dominic Rivron said...

This Mayan calendar thing - have you seen this cartoon? It amused me.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thank you Val. I wouldn't want to have to live with that clock either (it wouldn't fit in my garret - my photo doesn't really give much of an impression of size. Hope the Festive season is great for yourself too.

Ellie, it's not the Mayans that are confusing - it's everyone else making up things and saying that the mayans said so. No sign of the world ending out at sea this morning - I trust it's the same down in Ayrshire.

Dominic - :) This has been a cartoonist dream has it not?

The Glebe Blog said...

Very interesting Sandy. I think if the world did come to an end, most of the politicians would survive since most of them live on a different planet to us anyway.

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely rhino!

Thanks for the info on the Mayan calendar,

Pam and Wayne said...

I like the Jello Mayan commercial myself, but was pretty sure the world wouldn't end.
I'm planning a trip to San Francisco in 2 years, I'll be sure to keep my eye out for the elephant!

Sandy's witterings said...

Jim, there's a good chance there (and there's me thinking some good might come out of the end of the world)

Juliet - I reckon that rhino would be the very dab for my desk.

Pam and Wayne. Phew! The Jello offering obviously worked as I'm still here :)

Shundo said...

Very happy to see the rhino, and to know that we all safely survived another end of the world...

Sandy's witterings said...

Shundo - Another end of the world passes and I don't see any great difference in the afterlife.

Happy New B'ak'tun everyone - as I'm sure the Mayans would say