Ever wonder why many souvenirs of the Great Sphinx of Giza only represent the head? Perhaps the reason is this: When Napoleon ‘re-discovered’ the Sphinx in 1798, it was buried in sand up to its neck. While his engineers attempted to excavate it, there was just too much sand for them to contend with. The technology to remove and keep the sand away wouldn’t be available until the 1920s. Some souvenirs do now show the head and full body of the sphinx. The sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head that stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the face of the Pharaoh Khafra. The Great Sphinx is one of the world's largest and oldest statues but basic facts about it, such as when it was built, and by whom, are still debated. Some people believe the head was originally a lion that was later re-carved as a human. What happened to the nose? The nose on the face is missing and an examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods orchisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off. The Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century, attributes the loss of the nose to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khangah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In AD 1378, upon finding the local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Heeeeere's, Jimmy! Last night was the premiere of The Tonight Show with its new host, Jimmy Fallon, new location, New York City, and new stage set. I'm sure you architecture fans noticed the new Manhattan skyline behind his desk. Thanks to Kenny A. for alerting me to this. The 3-D miniature buildings appear to be made of wood and are highlighted with spot lights. Classy set for the new host. I wonder who built them?
Monday, February 17, 2014
PBS's Digital Studios help us understand why we building monuments and the materials we use to build them. From describing the gabbro of the Vietnam wall to explaining the Lincoln Memorial's marble and the red sandstone of the Smithsonian Castle. Check out the video below to learn more and have a new perspective on the history of our buildings and monuments.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Check out the fine craftsmanship of this Horse Guards’ Parade Desk with a prominent replica of the Horse Guards Building on top. Crafted from walnut and Bombay rosewood, the desk features six drawers, two of which depict a mounted horse guard with inlays. The Horse Guards Building is a Palladian-style building between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade in London, England. If you are interested in owning one…hurry, because this desk is a limited edition series of only 3. Previously, I wrote about another architectural desk.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Fellow collector Steven C. also traveled to Europe and added a few buildings to his ever-growing collection. “My wife and I did almost the same trip about 18 months ago and had the same discovery that most of the buildings offered are resin. We did not do Germany, but did the other 3 countries. Above is a picture of what we found in gift shops, antique shops, and flea markets. I usually don't buy resin, but I did buy one of Schonbrunn in Vienna. On the front row, the Egyptian ashtray I found at the Escheri Flea Market (thanks to Bob Curtiss recommendation) in Budapest along with the 3 Russian buildings on the back row (large silver metal and 2 glass ones). The St. Stephen's Basilica from Budapest is sandstone. The next 3 are St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna - the first plastic sold in the bookstore of the cathedral and the other 2 metal found at street vendors. Then the resin Schonbrunn Palace from Vienna. On the back row, the first 5 are all metal - the first 2 are the Petrine Hill obs tower (Prague's Eiffel Tower), the next one is the Astronomical Clock from Prague, and then 2 versions of Budapest's Liberty Statue (only saw these at one high end gift shop right across from St Stephen's). Next are the 3 Russian pieces and then one we got for our son in Amsterdam on our layover flying home.” – Steve C.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Collector Harry shared with us some of the building replicas he found while traveling in Europe. One particular souvenir he discovered in an antique store in Hungary is unusual. The 1920-era bronze metal replica of a statue / monument dedicated to the author anonymous (or Anonymus as it’s spelled in Hungarian) Anonymus was the first medieval Hungarian chronicler. His statue is located in City Park, in the courtyard of Vajdahunyad Castle. Sculptor Miklós Ligeti payed tribute to the nameless storyteller and important historical figure while hiding his face under a hood. Anonymus' work provides an insight into medieval Hungary. His chronicles were signed as 'the notary of the most glorious King Béla', which is still not enough to accurately identify him as there were four kings called Béla in the 12th and 13th centuries, leaving him anonymous for now.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Fellow collector Harry M. recently traveled to Europe and added a few buildings to his collection. “I thought you might like to see some of the current souvenir buildings offered at Central European tourist destinations, and some older ones we found in antique shops and flea markets. Julia and I spent a month in Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. We visited Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, as well as Salzburg. On a cruise up the Danube we visited Melk, Linz, Passau, Regensburg and Nuremburg. We also visited Rothenburg and Newschweinstien. Along the way, they found some souvenir building. Some are produced in metal, but resin predominates. In the photo, above, (click on it the enlarge) there are 5 rows of 21 buildings on the tray. From back to front, they are, Row 5: (back) Rothenburg cathedral in resin. Rothenburg cathedral in metal - old one from the 40s or 50s found in a Nuremburg antique shop. Newschwanstien castle - an old one from Ward Smith via eBay. Anonymous Statue from Budapest city park. The Sphinz was Vienna flea market find – very heavy plastic, resin or bone to scale with lots of accurate detail. Row 4: Vienna opera house in resin. Regensburg “sausage kitchen”, an historic structure serving the local sausage since 1250. Prague City Hall as a metal jewel box. St Stevens cathedral in Vienna in pewter. Row 3: Munich town hall (Rathaus) in pewter. Passau cathedral (very ornate baroque church). St Stevens cathedral in Vienna as a metal jewel box. Salzburg cathedral. Nuremburg “beautiful fountain” in the central market square. Row 2: Munich city hall in resin. St Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle in resin. Hungarian Parliament in resin. Melk Abbey in resin. Schonbrun Palace in Vienna in resin. Row 1 (front): Rothenburg cityscape in resin, an intact medieval walled city. Newschwanstien castle, miniature in pewter. We saw lots more souvenir buildings in the tourist shops and they are nearly all resin, and many were not well done. We limited ourselves to buildings that we visited. They are all wonderful memories of a fabulous trip.” - Harry