Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Judas - The Hanged Man?

I recently came across this image in a book:

It's an image of the hanged man and supposedly comes from the oldest-known Tarot pack - thought to have been made for the French king Charles VI in 1392. The similarity to the medieval depiction of Judas is what struck me - namely the red hair of the character along with the bags he holds (moneybags?). The fact that Judas is thought to have hung himself also correlates - although I'm guessing he hung himself by the neck and not upside down by the ankle. Maybe the upside down portrayal is meant to indicate that he's an inversion of Christ.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vampires 'n' Judas

On a recent episode of QI I saw the comedian Trevor Noah mention that silver is good for killing vampires as well as werewolves. The tradition being that Judas became the first vampire after his death and that the 30 pieces of silver he was given for betraying Jesus would burn him.

He didn't mention red hair, but Judas is often portrayed with it and I've read elsewhere that red hair has been associated with vampirism. Maybe there's a link. I'd never heard the Judas/vampire thing before, but it would be interesting to see if it's a genuine tradition, and if it is, how far it goes back.

I've just had a quick ping round the Internet and came across this;
Summers' 1928 book The Vampire: His Kith and Kin mentions that in particular red-headed vampires are considered the most dangerous, and trace their red hair back to Judas (or even Cain). He gives some 13th-century Latin references for this myth. Notably he states that in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania, Vampires are called "Children of Judas".

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Etymology of the Word "Ginger"

I recently received a really interesting email from a guy named Jeff Green regarding the etymology of the word ginger. He's kindly allowed me to share the email on here;
"I have been trying to research the origins of the word ginger as I am a redhead.  I have a theory that you may or may not find of interest.
Obviously, everybody refers to the ginger plant, with it’s red flower as the reason for calling redheads ginger.  The question that I can’t find a satisfactory answer to is how the plant got the name.
I’ve searched for any words that are similar to ginger and I came across an old Akkadian word – Gingira meaning Goddess or female creator.  The name Gingira can be used to refer to the various goddesses of ancient empires from Babylon to Egypt (Ishtar, Astarte, Innana, Isis etc).  My on-going studies will naturally go down the road of what colour hair these goddesses actually had.  I’ve seen a few of Madonna’s recent Goddess performances on Youtube and it caught my eye that she doesn’t use make-up to give a more melanin enriched appearance!  If these goddesses were readheads, then calling someone ginger haired would really mean that you were calling them goddess haired.  I think the plant is just a middle-man in the history of ginger/redhead.
Just a theory but more than plausible."
This is the first time I've ever heard anyone suggest this theory and it seems like a promising path to go down. If anyone has any information that would help it would be most appreciated.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scotland, Red Hair and Jewishness?

Just came across this interesting article. It's titled Red Hair: A Mutation, A Royal Trait, and Sometimes a Curse. I'll steal some of the bits I found interesting.
From my research, I found out that Poland was heavily populated with the Ashkenazic Jews, who are also known for their red hair. In a 1990 article titled “Polish Jewish History,” the author stated that “During the eighteenth century, at least, about half of the urban population of Poland was Jewish” (Hundert). Therefore, it seems safe to say that they were Ashkenazic Jews and not Sephardic Jews because they were from Poland. In an article titled, “On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews,” researchers found that there were “…thrice as many red-haired individuals as either Poles, Russians, or Austrians, and half as many again as Germans.”
This bit about the possible relationship between Scotland, Jewishness and red hair also caught my eye.
So far, many understand that the Celts could have inherited some of their red hair color from the Vikings, but it seems that those of Jewish descent may also have contributed to the accumulation of redheads, even in Scotland. According to the article titled “On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews”, the researchers speculate that the Scottish could have inherited their red hair from the European Jews. “Indeed, but for the abundant presence of red hair among Scotchmen [sic] it might be more open to explain the origin of red hair among Europeans as due to an infusion of Jewish blood than to account for it among Jews by assuming intermixture with Aryans” (Jacobs). To say that this is possible helps explain how Scotland is the country today that has the highest percentage of red haired individuals, although the country is mainly Christian. However, there is also the possibility of Jewish people changing their religion to Christianity, and the fact that there might be Jewish heritage in the backgrounds of the Scots, but they just do not know it yet.

The Golden Treasure

I came across this story last night - The Golden Treasure by Hans Christian Andersen. It's the story of a red-haired boy who grows up to become a famous musician. It's a quaint little tale and red hair is central to the theme.

I wonder if there's a hidden meaning to it which I'm missing, although I think in truth the story is simply a metaphor for the authors own life. The red hair possibly symbolising otherness as it often does.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The White (er, Red) Queen - Maybe

I've been watching the excellent BBC drama 'The White Queen' of late. It's brilliant TV, but I'm mildly annoyed that Elizabeth Woodville is portrayed as a blonde lol. It's inspired me to check out the hair colour of some of the other War of the Roses skanks.

It turns out that Elizabeth Woodville's daughter, Elizabeth of York, was also a redhead - or at least that's what her surviving portrait would suggest.

I decided to double-check Elizabeth Woodville's red-hairedness as well (not with any real research of course, just with a Google search). I came across this on a BBC history thread;
"She didn't have blonde hair at all. Do you remember Minette queried this on the old Elizabeth of York thread? That famous portrait of Elizabeth quite clearly shows her hair is red - gilt or gild (the word everyone quotes as "evidence" that she was a blonde) has an archaic meaning of blood-red."
Gilt/gild has an "archaic meaning of blood red"?? This is fascinating. If this is true it opens up so many doors.

I checked an on-line dictionary. Gild - Archaic To smear with blood. This kind of links red hair with blood and with gold. Add to this the fact that it was once thought that redheads were conceived during menstruation and it all becomes quite interesting.

Etymologically it's interesting too. Gild = gold. Gilt = guilt maybe?? (sin and it's association with red hair and sex).

Gild the lily???

Gild - to adorn. To make beautiful. Again the association with sin - covering the body, self-awareness.

It's all adding up to something. I'll have to keep a lookout for this gilt/gild link in the future.

Also, I've just wondered gilt=guilt=debt???

Anyway, going back to The White Queen. It portrays Elizabeth Woodville as a witch (from a family line of watery-witchy-Melusine descendants). Maybe it was her red hair that brought that suspicion?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Red Hair, Jewishness and the 45th Parallel

I've came across a few little curios regarding the rouge tint recently. Firstly this on Wikipedia;
"Red hair is also fairly common amongst the Ashkenazi Jewish populations, possibly because of the influx of European DNA over a period of centuries. In European culture, prior to the 20th century, red hair was often seen as a stereotypically Jewish trait: during the Spanish Inquisition, all those with red hair were identified as Jewish. In Italy, red hair was associated with Italian Jews, and Judas was traditionally depicted as red-haired in Italian and Spanish art."
Then also this article that suggests there's a link between red hair and the 45th parallel. It's a good piece and basically points out that beneath the 45th parallel it becomes disadvantageous to have red hair because of the increased amount of sunlight. Food for thought.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Red Hair, Thomas Jefferson and the Lunacy of Racism

I've also just finished reading Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz, another fascinating book. This time red hair popped up in relation to Thomas Jefferson and the status of mixed race people in the days of slavery.
"Thomas Jefferson fathered a son, Eston, with his one-quarter-black slave, Sally Hemmings. Eston had fair skin, freckles, and red hair, but his background was evidently not black enough to qualify him as "black"; in the early nineteenth century, Virginia law declared people white if they were less than one-quarter black. Nevertheless, the son of a slave was the son of a slave-Eston was only freed on the instruction of Jefferson's will, and lived his life out as a white man in the North. His full brother, Madison Hemmings (born James Madison Hemmings), had no such luck. Though he shared an identical lineage with Eston, and had also been freed in Jefferson's will, Madison had "bronze" skin, which seems to have been enough to condemn him to life as a black man. By law, Madison should have been treated the same as his brother, but no one could accept that someone with Madison's appearance could be considered white, even if his father had been president of the United States."

Red Hair and Witchery

I've just finished reading The Secret of History of Lucifer by Lynn Picknett, one of my favourite esoteric authors. Perhaps unsurprisingly red hair crops up.
"The Egyptians hated anything red, as can be seen from an invocation to Isis: 'Free me from all red things'. In his alter ego as Typhon, Set was called 'the red-skinned one'."
"Women with dissimilar eyes or red hair were instantly recognised as devil worshippers: apart from the symbolism discussed previously, perhaps this was because redheads usually have freckles, and these were often taken as 'witch marks'."
There was also this interesting little nugget about hair in general;
"Saint Paul ruled that women's heads should be covered in church 'because of the angels', for there was a real fear that female hair attracted daemones[.]"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Louis (or Louise) II of Hungary

Oh, and I also came across this painting of a red-haired royal.

It was painted by Bernhard Strigel and is supposedly of Louis II, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia. This surprised me, as on first inspection I just assumed it to be a woman. Either way the person portrayed is undoubtedly red-haired.

More Red Hair in Portrait Paintings

Following my last post I've been looking at portrait paintings from the Tudor period for signs of red hair. These are the fruits.

Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Mary was the daughter of Henry VII and younger sister of Henry VIII. She married King Louis XII of France. A Venetian ambassador described her as "a paradise - tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor." According to Wikipedia she "wore her glorious silken red-gold hair flowing loose to her waist."

Joan of Austria

Joan was the first wife of Grand Duke Francesco de Medici. I couldn't find a mention of her hair colour, but in this painting she looks pretty ginger.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Joanna the Mad

Just discovered another royal ginger hoe - Joanna the Mad aka Joanna of Castile. She was married to Philip the Handsome and reigned over the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. She was also the last monarch of the House of Trastamara. According to Wiki her hair was between reddish-blonde and auburn.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Scarlet Panacea

I came across this in John Aubrey's Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme;
"Johannes Medicos. who lived and wrot[e] in the time of Ed[ward] 2, and was Physi[cian] to that king, gives an account of his [curing] the Prince of [the] Smallpox (a distemper but then lately known in England) by ordering his bed, his room, and his attendants to be all in scarlet, and imputes [the] cure in great measure to the [virtue] of [the] colour."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Knot of Amber Hair

Back in September I mentioned that I was going to read Christopher Marlowe's play 'Tamburlaine the Great' after discovering that he (Tamburlaine) had red hair. Now I've finally read it.

When I started I didn't expect to actually find anything red hair related, but I'd wanted to read it anyway and the slightest thought that rouge locks might pop up in it somewhere pushed me to finally do it. Anyway, I was pleased and surprised to find that a mention of Tamburlaine's hair colour did pop up.

The character Menaphon describes his appearance as thus;

"His lofty brows in folds do figure death,
And in their smoothness amity and life;
About them hangs a knot of amber hair,
Wrapped in curls, as fierce Achilles' was,
On which the breath of Heaven delights to play,
Making it dance with wanton majesty."

The comparison to the red-haired Achilles makes it doubly pleasing.