Congrats Gavin (Zen Pencils) for your originality, skill & tenacity. Look forward to your book!
A frequently occurring motif in Minoan art: the bull leaper.
A dangerous and difficult acrobatic feat, bull leaping is thought to have been a key religious ritual of the Minoan civilization in Bronze Age Crete. The strength of the bull may have lay behind their religious importance to the Minoans.
The bull was sacred to many early civilizations, and had a central role in Greek mythology around Crete. Because of this, many believe that bulls played a vital role in Minoan cults. The Minoans appear to have been skilled bull jumpers, as indicated by their representations in ancient art. It seems as though a person would grasp the horns, and be vaulted, or somersaulted, over the back of the bull. Bull leaping may have been part ritual, part sport, and part entertainment. It is also possible that the bull was sacrificed afterwards. Archaeologists suggest that bull leaping may have been practiced in the central courtyard of the palace at Knossos, where many artifacts featuring the bull, and bull leaper, have been found.
The shown example of a Minoan bull leaper was found in Crete, and dates to about 1700-1450 BC. In this depiction of the bull leaping motif, the person somersaults over the bull’s head, landing with both their feet on its back. The legs and arms of the figure do not remain.
Elsewhere in ancient art, a few other famous representations of Minoan bull leaping include the fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, and this ivory figurine of a bull leaper also from the Palace of Knossos.
So are such leaps possible? The British Museum elaborates:
It seems highly unlikely that an acrobat could grasp a bull’s horns and use the toss of its head to flip over onto its back, because of the unpredictability of the bull’s movements.
Perhaps in reality the bulls were restrained or even tamed. Certainly some Minoan representations show bulls being captured, tethered and led, as well as apparently being held by the horns.
It is probable that the Minoans put considerable effort and long experience into the sport, and were able to achieve dramatic effects. Even so, the possibility of some artistic licence in the representations should not be discounted.
The shown artifact at the top of the post is courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Mike Peel via the Wiki Commons. When writing this post, C. Scott Littleton’s Gods, goddesses, and mythology, Volume 10 was of great use.
The Mongol Empire existed during the 13th and 14th centuries, and was the largest contiguous land empire in human history.
The Chinese bureaucracy has been far-reaching for millenia. The “Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette” in the 800s insisted that local officials use the above template to apologize to their hosts after a night of inappropriate drunken behavior. The official would copy the template, insert the hosts’ names, sign it, and deliver it “with head bowed.” The letter was discovered, alongside thousands of other documents, in a sealed cave library in western China.
"Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame."
Bring back good manners!
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