Evidence for Donkey Polo in Ancient China

An interesting archaeological find was reported earlier this year from western China where the excavation of a noblewoman’s grave has provided evidence for the use of donkeys for games of polo by elite women in the Tang dynasty.

The sport of polo was popular among the Chinese aristocracy in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). Literary sources document that women played as well as men, and that, even though donkeys were typically associated with low social status as pack and farm animals, they were also favored by the elite for playing polo. The excavation of the tomb of a Tang noblewoman, Cui Shi, for the first time offers archaeological evidence to support the written accounts.

Although polo has traditionally been played on horseback, the authors of this study, led by archaeologist Songmei Hu, mention that donkeys may sometimes have been preferred because their natural response to stress and danger, something a polo match would frequently present, is different. While horses, as herd animals, have developed a sensitivity to commotion among nearby animals and tend to respond by fleeing, donkeys, with a more solitary history, are less perturbed by the kinds of chaos that a polo field might present.

The authors identified the remains of at least three donkeys in Cui Shi’s tomb. For animals more traditionally connected with the peasantry than the elite, this was an unusual find for the grave of a woman whose family moved in the higher circles of the imperial aristocracy. But the family’s status was also connected to polo: written sources document that Cui Shi’s husband, Bao Gao, was promoted by the emperor to the rank of general on the strength of his skill in the sport. The bones of the donkeys themselves also show signs that they may have been used for playing polo, as they show patterns of growth reflecting strong and sudden stresses, such as animals suddenly starting, stopping, and changing direction on the polo field would experience, rather than those typical of animals used for carrying burdens or pulling carts.

This find is both an example of how archaeological and literary evidence can support one another and a view into the lives of elite women in ancient China who weren’t content to let the men have all the fun of donkey polo!

Image: Tang dynasty polo players via Wikimedia (tomb of Prince Zhang Huai, Qianling Mausoleum, Xi’an; 706 CE; wall painting)

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TARDIS Console Room Concepts by Paul Hanley

Artist Paul Hanley tweeted a series of TARDIS console room concepts in a range of styles. My favorite may be the rococo-inspired one:

Although the Cloiser Room is also great:

And the Da Vinci -esque one could almost be a World of Warcraft Gnome’s workshop:

Or maybe a Blood Elven alchemy lab?

Which one is your favorite?

Found via File 770.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Star Trek: The Next Generation as a Wholesome 90s Sitcom

YouTube user TrainDozer re-imagined Star Trek: The Next Generation as a wholesome 90s sitcom, and the trailer is hilarious:

Data – A 90s Sitcom by TrainDozer on YouTube

The best part is that TrainDozer clearly pulled in material from the gag reels. (My only criticism is that from this trailer, you can’t tell that the series supposedly centers Data. Ohwell!)

Found via File 770.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Custom Bookcases with Carvings for a LotR Collection

Now this is a treasure, preciouss! A Finland-based company built these amazing custom bookcases for a collection of figurines and other materials from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

FB Puustikki LotR Bookcases

Many (if not all?) of the bookcases also have carved crowns. Here’s the Rohan one:

FB Puustikki LotR Bookcases Rohan

There are also metal shields that function as handles:

FB Puustikki LotR Bookcases Dragon

Puustikki talk about their project a bit on Facebook:

“Finally we’re able to publish photos of these custom made, epic showcases for LOTR and Hobbit figurine collection. Probably the biggest collection in Finland and now it’s also displayed in showcases it deserves! This whole thing is 100% handmade out of solid oak and we wanted to use glass doors to maximize visibility into the cases. Each one of the showcases has distinct features to corresponding races/nations; carvings on the top and a custom made steel handle.

“Height of these wooden marvels is 250cm, so they barely fit into a regular house! [sic]”

 

Puustikki is run by carpenter Jarkko Pilvinen and jeweler Juho Manninen. The makers pull their inspiration from history and historical fantasy. At this writing, their online store includes drinking horns, a picnic table and benches, beds, dragon pegboards, runed coasters, and jewelry, among others.

My goodness! Astounding, aren’t they? Stylistically, a lot of their other wares are not our style at all, but as a maker myself, I really admire and appreciate the consideration and effort that went into all of their designs.

Check out the Puustikki website or Instagram for more.

Images by Jukka Alasaari Photography via Puustikki on Facebook

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

The First Villeneuve Dune Trailer Is Out

The first trailer for director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is making its rounds, and it sure looks shiny:

Dune Official Trailer by Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

We don’t see many women doing much of anything, just standing, staring, emoting, and kissing, which is complete, utter, and total hooey compared to the book; I hope it’s just a case of trailers always lie.

At least Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is prominently monologuing, but we hear nothing of Lady Jessica or Chani. As Charlotte Rampling is playing the Mother, Rebecca Ferguson Jessica, and Zendaya Chani, I have no doubt we’ll see stellar performances for the main female roles.

Timothée Chalamet plays Paul. I’ve only seen him as Laurie in the newest Little Women (2019, directed by Greta Gerwig) and apparently in Interstellar; I didn’t like his version of the former and remember nothing of the latter, so he’s a big unknown as far as I’m concerned. I saw someone critique him as being an okay choice for young Paul at the beginning but not having enough gravitas (to paraphrase) for the older Paul Muad’Dib. Plausible, I agree; I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Oscar Isaac I’m looking very much forward to, if for nothing else then to see whether he has the range to play Duke Leto. Stellan Skarsgård, Javier Bardem, and David Dastmalchian I would also expect to do just fine if not directed to be too hammy. But the rest… Well. I get that Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, and Dave Bautista are big names, but I find them uninspiring choices. Again, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’ve also seen the two previous big screen adaptations (the 1984 movie directed by David Lynch and the 2000 miniseries directed by John Harrison). Both had some flaws that to me weighed the adaptations down more than the positives could buoy them, so I’m looking forward to Villeneuve’s version. It certainly looks gorgeous.

At the same time, I agree with an online contact who elsewhere said that they’d like something that’s more relevant to 2020s than to the time the story was written (1965).

At this writing, Dune is set to be released on December 18, 2020.

I doubt we two will see it in the theater unless there’s significant improvement in the local covid-19 numbers, so I’m hoping for an early release to either streaming services or disc.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Second Trailer for Wonder Woman 1984

A new trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 is out:

Wonder Woman 1984 – Official Main Trailer by Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

I don’t know about you, but for me the most delightful thing in the trailer was the quick glimpse of young Diana running into an arena with other amazons. She was an absolute joy in the first movie!

Pedro Pascal, the actor for the male antagonist Max Lord, does a very good job—I’m repulsed by the character already; I just hope the performance isn’t too huge a hock of ham. I’ve only seen Pascal in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (plus a smattering of smaller roles in a variety of tv series), so I don’t have much to go by.

Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen reprise their roles; that’s lovely. I did complain, if you remember, that Antiope should be bought back when I was writing about the first trailer. I hope she doesn’t just get shunted into a mere flashback.

What we can tell of Kristen Wiig’s performance looks good, too; I’ve seen her in Ghostbusters and The Martian and enjoyed her voice acting (e.g. How to Train Your Dragon and the Despicable Me series); here’s hoping the trailer doesn’t lie in this respect.

I’m also delighted that Patty Jenkins has been given the chance to write the story and screenplay, not just direct. Here’s hoping she can make 1980s more interesting and less cringe-worthy than when I went through it!

According to IMBD, WW1984 is now set to release October 02, 2020. We’ll see whether the pandemic eats up this premier, too…

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Video Compilation of Roving on Mars

A new Mars video is out, and it’s incredibly beautiful. The compilation was created on the basis of images captured by three Mars rovers. The imagery was turned into a 10-minute video with amazing detail.

Yoinked from the description by ElderFox Documentaries on YouTube:

“A world first. New footage from Mars rendered in stunning 4K resolution. We also talk about the cameras on board the Martian rovers and how we made the video.

“The cameras on board the rovers were the height of technology when the respective missions launched.”

New: Mars in 4K by ElderFox Documentaries on YouTube

It’s amazing enough to think that we, ugly bags of mostly water, have sent probes into the far reaches of our solar system to capture high-definition photos and send them back. Now we also have rovers on multiple planetary bodies. (Two counts as multiple in my book, LOL!)

Found via Colossal.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Squashed Between the Earth and Our Moon

This video by Nick (who posts as yeti dynamics) has been out for over a year at this writing, but it’s still very impressive: what would it look like if, as impossible it was, all of the planets (plus Pluto) in our solar system were between the Earth and our moon?

What would it Look like with all the planets between the earth and the moon? by yeti dynamics on YouTube

Wow. Great job, Nick!

Found via File 770.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Video Mashup Tribute: Danger Zone with X-Wings

Anybody else who grew up in the 1980s and remembers the song “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins? Here’s a treat: Jackson McKay mashed it up with X-wing clips from Star Wars movies for a really thrilling video.

Danger Zone: X-Wing Tribute (Ep IV-IX & Rogue One) by Jackson McKay on YouTube

What a blast! 😀

Found via Tor.com.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.