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Xaela clans

xaelaI would just like to take a moment to mention that the Xaela faction of the new, dragonesque Au Ra race in Final Fantasy XIV are based around 15th century Mongolians, and as such Square-Enix decided this meant they were a bunch of piss drinkers, shit collectors, lesbian separatists, chess nerds, nudist colonies, drunk vegans, Cthulhu worshippers and bestiality cults.

In other words, possibly the best fantasy incarnation of medieval Mongolia, ever.

Also these guys:

Ugund – When members of this tribe die, their heads are removed from their bodies and placed in a jar of fermented goat milk. Once the liquid has been drunk by the head (in other words, evaporated), the head is then buried under an anthill so that the tiny workers can carry the spirit to the afterlife. The journey is thought to be a terrible one, the road filled with ghosts of the damned, so ensuring the spirit is drunk helps ease the journey.

Your move, Ant-Man.

Photo credit.

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Jurassic World review: Do not look at the dinosaur park

Jurassic World is a strange movie. It claims to be a dinosaur movie, and yet throughout it is repeated over and over by the actors that dinosaurs are the most boring part of the movie. Do not look at the dinosaurs. No-one wants to look at the dinosaurs.

It is possible you will see dinosaurs in the dinosaur park. Do not approach them. Do not approach the dinosaur park. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dinosaur park, and especially do not look for any period of time at the dinosaurs. The dinosaur park will not harm you.

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Audio

Incarnations: India in 50 Lives

tuktuk

BBC Radio 4 are currently running a series exploring India through 50 great personalities. The first in the series details the life of the Buddha and can be listened to for free on the Radio 4 website.

Stay tuned to hear about other impressive names, some of them like Kautilya and Aryabhata not very well known by the general British public. As some of the greatest minds in our world history they definately deserve the coverage.

The next in the series tomorrow is Panini: Catching the Ocean in a Cow’s Hoofprint.

Interview with Fangs Moon, fantasy author from Kathmandu

Nepal is famous for many things. The colourful and vibrant religions, the beautiful Himalayas, brave Gurkhas and, of course, delicious Momos. It does not however have a reputation for having an active and creative sci-fi and fantasy scene. Despite often being used as the scenic backdrop to a video game or novel, the creative works of native Nepalese people have not yet made it onto the mainstream English-speaking internet.

Fangs Moon is an indie fantasy author from Kathmandu who was kind enough to let me ask him a few questions about his writing. You can find out more about Fangs on his Smashwords page or get in touch with him via twitter.

I lost contact with Fangs over the course of the earthquake but just in case any readers were worried I can confirm that he is alive and well, thank goodness!

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O Fortuna Devi

tumblr_mj93inm96Q1rqxd5ko1_1280A multi-armed Goddess of fortune, wealth and prosperity. Typically depicted wearing a red dress embroidered with golden threads and lavishly opulent décor.

This could apply both to the Hindu goddess Lakṣmī and the above depiction of the roman goddess Fortuna. However, that is as far as the comparison goes. Apart from a few references to South Asia in the context of trade, import and export, there was barely any cultural crossover between 15th century Europe and Hindu iconography. So, no, they are not related. The above image comes from Giovanni Boccaccio’s ‘Des cas des nobles homes et femmes’, a 1410 French translation by Laurent de Premierfait (Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. fr. 190/2, fol. 30v).

So why, then, does she have so many arms? And why are they lop-sided? Unfortunately the complex mystery of the Fortuna’s snaggle-limb will forever remain an enigma, reminding us of our crippling alienation from the past (I suspect the artist miscounted). The other question is much easier to answer. Here are a couple of other contemporary depictions of the goddess:

CarminaBurana_wheel ForutuneWheel

She is seen here spinning the ‘wheel of fortune’. Her multiple arms are spokes for a wheel that she alone can control.

Canary in a Coal Mine

Before all this Constantine TV and movie malarkey, rewind the clock. Back, further, further… that’s it. Old, pure Hellblazer. Late eighties, post-punk, anti-Thatcherite con jobs and the odd bit of magic. John has yet to get lung cancer and spends his time wandering the acetate and hand-coloured pages looking for trouble. In this story, he found it in bloody Wales, of all places.

Story after the break.

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F0002901 Sanskrit Beta 1469

From the Wellcome Library: This image is from a Sanskrit manuscript thought to be dated 1469. This manuscript is from the genre of karmavipaka, meaning “the ripening of karma”. It begins with a salutation to the sage Dhanvantari, the traditional author of the original works on Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It explains the karmic relationship with a given disaster or disease; listing various sinful acts together with a brief statement of the alleged consequences that follow. For example; killing a cow will cause the killer to go to hell and having sex with a priest’s wife, the wife of another, a widow, or a prostitute, may lead to diseases such as ring-leprosy, bloody bile, or excessive urination.

A hi-res version is available to download on their website.