Sunday, May 17, 2009

In My Cabinet of Oddities: Part 1

I've collected strange things since I was a child. Many of those I still have. But probably my most desired collectables were not acquired until later on when I had more money to spend.

I'm going to feature a few items from my collection from time to time. Today I present to you:

A Faux Shrunken Head Made From Goat Skin:

BONELUST - Faux Shrunken Head Make From Goat Skin

I was told when I purchased this that it was made by a member of the Jivaro tribe of the Amazon River forests, of southeastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru. They make real shrunken heads from the heads of their enemies. Trophies of war, they were believed to be powerful talismans. Since the skull would not shrink, it was removed prior to boiling and other preparation. Since the 1940s, it has been illegal to import shrunken heads into the United States. So the Jivaros now produce imitation shrunken heads fashioned of goat skin for commercial purposes.

Perhaps I will try to make my own shrunken head one day from roadkill.

Dog Skull, Vintage Camera & Medical Tools:

BONELUST - Dog Skull, Vintage Camera & Medical Tools

Besides bones, I collect vintage (and a few new) medical related items. Here you can see some of them including a modern hand operated bonesaw. The box that reads "A.S. Aloe Co." contains a real used vintage electric bonesaw. I'll open it up and get photos for another edition of "In My Cabinet of Oddities".

In the vintage glass Pyrex lab containers are various used medical tools. Including a metal syringe, some very intimidating pliers, and an assortment of other various tools. I can only imagine how they were previously used in surgeries.

I have medical books dating back to the 1800s. The beliefs and procedures back then seem barbaric and more like torture now. I will get a full set of photos of these to share in the future, including diagram examples.

Badger Skull & Working Vintage "Musical Jolly Chimp":

BONELUST - Badger Skull & Vintage Cymbal Playing Monkey Toy

When I was young my family would sometimes go to this pizza parlor in Tampa, for dinner. It was a sit down novelty theme place that had bubbles that would fall from the ceiling and showed silent films. While you ate and watched movies there was a man that played piano on a pedestal in a spotlight. He had a creepy toy monkey that would play cymbals along with him and when it behaved badly he would strike it on the head with a mallet. Then it bared its teeth, screeched and eyes popped in and out. Disturbing.

I wouldn't say I was "scarred for life" but it certainly left a strange impression on me. As much as the monkey frightened me it also intrigued me, and so I wanted my own. Many years later with the birth of eBay I sought and purchased the exact same style of toy monkey, in working condition.

I have since unintentionally made someone cry when I showed it to them. Ooops.

You can hardly see it in the photo but he rests on a fossilized manatee bone my father gave to me as a gift. And in front of him is a badger skull I picked up at a fantastic roadside store on a highway in the middle of nowhere, in Colorado.

You can see the same kind of monkey working here:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Should Make My Own Personal Nail Fetish

This in real African nail fetish statue, of the Bakongo Tribe, from my collection of oddities. It is approx 18" tall. Weighs about 8 lbs. And is made of weathered solid wood, nails, glass and wonderful rust/patina.

BONELUST - Real Wooden Bakongo Tribe, African Nail-Fetish Statue (Nkondi or Nkonde Nail Fetish)

Fetishes (Nkondi, or minkondi for the plural), were protective figures used by individuals, families, or whole communities. They would use them to destroy or weaken evil spirits, prevent or cure illnesses, repel bad deeds, solemnize contracts or oath-taking, and decide arguments.

A diviner or holy person would activate the statue, using magical substances. Fetishes gained power and were effective because people believed in them.

This particular fetish statue was made by someone of the Zaire, Bakongo/Kongo Tribe. It is a Nkisi Nkondi or Nkisi Nkonde nail fetish. An "Oath Taking and Healing Figure."

The figure shows an 'oath taking' gesture, with one arm upraised. At one point the figure probably held a blade, or baaka, an ancient kind of knife used for extracting the milk of the palm wine tree, in the upraised arm. The blade was believed to have the power to kill by supernatural means.

The original blade was lost and replaced by this spear, by the African Art company when I originally purchased it from, in 2001. I was told this figure was around 50 years old then.

I've often thought to make my own personal fetish in my image. I certainly have trouble with negative things happening like people being dishonest with me. So having my own Nkisi to 'nail-the-issue' into couldn't hurt!

Only thing, who would I get to activate the statue using magical substances?