Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Poppies by George Henry, 1891.

I came across this image yesterday. I came across a few others too, but I think this one is so beautiful it deserves a post to itself.

(Poppies, 1891.)

It's titled Poppies, and is by the Scottish painter George Henry. It's also slightly fitting as we've just had Poppy Day and Remembrance Sunday.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Recently Read: The Future Is Red

I've finished reading Ian Cook's latest work The Future Is Red. I actually reviewed it on Amazon yesterday, so it's something of a relief to be reviewing it on here. I'm always scared of giving the plot away with proper book reviews. Plus I'm always mindful that the things I value in a book might not necessarily be what other people value. So it's a little easier being back here. I have a lot more leeway ..though I'll still try not to spoil things for anyone.

It was a cracking read. I really enjoyed it. That was helped partly by the fact that it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Aside from my obvious interest in red hair it also features Mars, Antarctica, witches and megaliths; along with Celtic/British history and myth. So a lot of themes I have a natural interest in already. I have an especial interest in Antarctica, so having that linked with red hair was particularly appealing.

The book also features a discovered skeleton of a red-haired giant - which again is another favoured topic. Like many things in the book this is something that's fantastical, but at the same time rooted in the real world somewhat, what with the many accounts of giants, some red-haired, in historical accounts and newspaper clippings, etc. So the book lives on that liminal boundary between the real and the supernatural. Which is something I always really like. This was another huge plus actually, as you get a tour through many real world sites as the story progresses. Some I was already familiar with, such as the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio, and the famous island of Iona, and others that were more of an education to me, such as the Rollright Stones and Dunsinane Hill.

As for the story itself, and again without wanting to give too much away, it's very much an unfolding mystery, with a treasure hunt type feel. When I started penning my Amazon review my first thought when it came to a description was that it's like a cross between an episode of the X-Files and an episode of Midsomer Murders. I didn't put that. Partly owing to the fact that most people outside the UK probably wouldn't know what Midsomer Murders was, but also because it's obviously a little bit of a silly way to describe a book. However, it's still what springs to mind to me. It has the esoteric mystery (plus some of the fear and horror) of an X-Files episode, but it also has the gentle humour and picturesque nature of a mystery set in the British countryside. The characters have a real warmth and likeability, even those on the bad side of the good/evil divide. In fact, I really liked the ending in regard the major villain, it has a nice charm to it.

Finally, as ever when reviewing books I can never quite resist thieving bits. This particular passage I wanted to make note of. It comes when the character Charles is discussing flood myths. He says:
"For example, in Greek mythology, there's the story of Pyrrha of Thessaly. Pyrrhus means 'red' in Latin, and Horace and Ovid describe Pyrrha as a redhead. Anyway, the myth is that Pyrrha and her husband were the only survivors of a great deluge. Her husband was told by an oracle that they should both throw rocks over their shoulders. They do, and the rocks become human beings."
We've came across the name Pyrrha before - oddly Achilles, in his youth, was said to have been disguised as a girl called Pyrrha, supposedly the name a reference to his red hair. However, I wasn't aware of this red-haired Pyrrha, so it's another arrow to add to the quiver. According to Wikipedia it's said to be related to the Greek word purrhos, meaning flame-coloured. We also have the word pyro, meaning fire, which also stems from Greek and is no doubt related.

Falling meteorites, which also feature heavily in the story, could be said to be quite pyrotechnical. So it fits quite neatly :)

Sunday, October 3, 2021

October updates..

A shorty post today. Just giving a few updates.

Firstly, I'm currently reading The Future Is Red. This is Ian Cook's latest work of fiction. Some of the readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with his first book Redhead.

I'm really enjoying it so far, and I'll review it properly once I'm finished.

Secondly, I received a really nice email pointing out the following image. It shows St Margaret of Antioch, also known as Margaret the Virgin, with reddish hair.

I really like these medieval images. When I was reading up on St Margaret I also came across the following image. It's the coat of arms of Vehmaa - a municipality of Finland. I don't think this one can be claimed as a redhead per se, as pretty much everything is red, bar the dragon. Plus, it's obviously modern.

Still quite cool though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

How many US presidents had red hair? The complete list

 On the internet, you'll find many lists of red-haired US presidents, but I bet this one is the most complete.

Here are the red-haired American presidents we've found so far. Click on the names and you'll be redirected to their posts.

1) George Washington, 1st president

2) Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president


 3) Andrew Jackson, 7th president, Democratic Party

4) Martin van Buren, 8th president, Democratic Party

5) Franklin Pierce, 14th president, Democratic Party


6) Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president, Republican Party

7) Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president, Republican Party

8) Calvin Coolidge, 30th president, Republican Party

9) Dwight Eisenhower, 34th president, Republican Party

10) John F. Kennedy, 35th president, Democratic Party

And that's 10 of them! Since we are currently at 46th president, this means that roughly the 22% of them had red hair, which is huge, since, as you know, redheads are only the 2% of the world population. It's only the Scottish and Irish heritage of first Americans or there's something more? Ai posteri l'ardua sentenza, as the Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni put it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And, if in your country you had red-haired presidents, please let us know!

PS: according to some, Donald Trump too has (or, at least, had) red hair, but in photos taken when he was younger, it looks more light brown to me.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Si-Te-Cah: a tribe of red-haired giant cannibals?

According to Paiute people's oral history, the Si-Te-Cah, Saiduka or Sai'i are a legendary tribe whose mummified remains were allegedly discovered under four feet of guano by guano miners in what is now known as Lovelock Cave near Lovelock, Nevada. The miners destroyed many of the artifacts, but archaeologists were still able to retrieve 10,000 Paiute artifacts from the cave. Items included tule duck decoys, sandals, and baskets, several dating back over 2000 years.

One of the duck decoys found in Lovelock Cave.


 "Si-Te-Cah" literally means "tule-eaters" in the language of the Paiute people. Tule is a fibrous water plant. In order to escape harassment from the Paiutes, the Si-Te-Cahs were said to have lived on rafts made of tule on the lake.

Entrance to Lovelock Cave

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (1844 - 1891), daughter of Paiute Chief Winnemucca, wrote about what she described as "a small tribe of barbarians" who ate her people in her book Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. She wrote: "My people say that the tribe we exterminated had reddish hair. I have some of their hair, which has been handed down from father to son. I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with the reddish hair. I am going to wear it some time when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family." Hopkins does not mention giants.

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins

A written report by James H. Hart, the first of two miners to excavate the cave in the fall of 1911, recalls that in the north-central part of the cave, about four feet deep, "was a striking looking body of a man 'six feet six inches tall.' His body was mummified and his hair distinctly red." Unfortunately, in the first year of mining, some of the human remains and artifacts were lost and destroyed. "The best specimen of the adult mummies was boiled and destroyed by a local fraternal lodge, which wanted the skeleton for initiation purposes." Also, several of the fiber sandals found in the cave were remarkably large, and one reported at over 15 inches (38 cm) in length was said to be on display at the Nevada Historical Society's museum in Reno in 1952.

According to scholars, the 'giant' interpretation of the skeletons from Lovelock Cave and other dry caves in Nevada was started by entrepreneurs setting up tourist displays and that the skeletons themselves were of normal size. As for red hair, they say hair pigment is not stable after death and various factors such as temperature, soil, etc. can turn ancient very dark hair rusty red or orange. However, other scholars say that, unless hair is exposed to light, it's unlikely that any change in colour would take place. Also, the myth of Si-Te-Cah being red-haired existed before Lovelock Cave was discovered, so... what did it stem from?

Moreover, in South America (where natives are black-haired like natives of North America) ancient statuettes have been found, depicting people with red or blond hair. This could mean that in the past light hair was more common than today among American natives.

Moche culture statuette. Please note Amerindians don't have facial hair.

Vichama statuettes, dating to 1800 BC.


Friday, August 6, 2021

The Red-Haired Mummies of Peru and Chile

The Paracas culture was an Andean society existing between approximately 800 BC and 100 BC.
It was located in what today is the Ica Region of Peru. Most information about the lives of the Paracas people comes from excavations at the large seaside Paracas site on the Paracas Peninsula, first formally investigated in the 1920s by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello (1880 - 1947).

The Paracas Cavernas are shaft tombs set into the top of Cerro Colorado, each containing multiple burials.
Each burial consisted of a conical textile-wrapped bundle, most containing a seated individual facing north across the bay of Paracas, next to grave offerings such as ceramics, foodstuffs, baskets, and weapons. Each body was bound with cord to hold it in a seated position, before being wrapped in many layers of intricate, ornate, and finely woven textiles. The Paracas Necropolis textiles and embroideries are considered to be some of the finest ever produced by Pre-Columbian Andean societies. They are the primary works of art by which Paracas culture is known. Burials at the necropolis of Wari Kayan continued until approximately 250 AD. Many of the mortuary bundles include textiles similar to those of the early Nazca culture, which arose after the Paracas.

Most of the mummies have reddish, blondish and brownish hair. Here are the reddish ones.


Some speculate that the red “hats” of the Moai of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) represent the hair tied into a top knot, and many of these large stone figures were made prior to the arrival of Polynesians, who first came there about 100 AD, at the earliest.


 The Chinchorro mummies are mummified remains of individuals from the South American Chinchorro culture, found in what is now northern Chile. They are the oldest examples of artificially mummified human remains, having been buried up to two thousand years before the Egyptian mummies: the oldest anthropogenically modified Chinchorro mummy dates from around 5050 BC. While many cultures throughout the world have sought to focus on preserving the dead elite, the Chinchorro tradition performed mummification on all members of their society, making them archaeologically significant. The decision of egalitarian preservation is proven in the mummification of the relatively less productive members of society (meaning those who could not contribute to the welfare of others; the elderly, children, infants and miscarried fetuses). It is often the case that children and babies received the most elaborate mummification treatments.

Here are the ones with red hair. 


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Ginger, the Gebelein Man

The Gebelein predynastic mummies are six naturally mummified bodies, dating to approximately 3400 BC from the Late Predynastic period of Ancient Egypt. They were the first complete predynastic bodies to be discovered. The well-preserved bodies were excavated at the end of the nineteenth century by Wallis Budge, the British Museum Keeper for Egyptology, from shallow sand graves near Gebelein (today, Naga el-Gherira) in the Egyptian desert.

Budge excavated all the bodies from the same grave site. Two were identified as male and one as female, with the others being of undetermined sex. The bodies were found in foetal positions (knees raised towards their heads), lying on their left sides, which was the most common form for Egyptian burials of the time.

Since 1901, the first body excavated (EA 32751) has remained on display in the British Museum. This body was originally nicknamed Ginger due to his red hair, although now this nickname is no longer officially used. 


He was 1.63 metres high (5.3 feet). The body has all teeth present and healthy and there are tufts of ginger-coloured hair on the scalp. There are fractures to the ribs, right pubic ring, both thigh bones, shin and calf bones but there is no evidence of arthritis. In November 2012 it was revealed that "Ginger" had probably been murdered. A CAT scan of the mummified body taken at the Cromwell Hospital in London showed that he was aged about 18 to 20 at the time of his death and was well-muscled. Under his left shoulder blade, the scan revealed a puncture to the body; the murder weapon was used with such force that it slightly damaged the shoulder blade, but shattered the rib beneath it and penetrated the lung. It was believed that the injury was caused by a copper blade or flint knife at least 12 cm in length and 2 cm wide. Daniel Antoine, the British Museum's expert on human remains, believes that Gebelein Man had been taken by surprise by the attack as there were no defense wounds.

The mummies were acquired by the British Museum in 1900 and Ginger went on display in 1901, and was the earliest mummified body seen by the public. Apart from maintenance, it has been on continuous display in the same gallery.

The head of EA 32751 showing the preserved hair.

Of the other five bodies, only the female adult, given museum number EA 32752, has been exhibited. In 1997-8 the body was part of a tour to Rome as part of the Palazzo Ruspoli, Ancient Faces exhibition. Again in 2001 the body went to Birmingham as part of the Gas Hall Egypt Revealed exhibition.In 2001, before going out on loan, the body had some restoration using Japanese kozo paper to secure a loose finger, reattach a rib and reattach some locks of hair. 

In the predynastic period bodies were usually buried naked and sometimes loosely wrapped. In such a burial, when the body is covered in warm sand, the environmental conditions mean that most of the water in the body is quickly evaporated or drained away, meaning that the corpse is naturally dried and preserved. This method was widely used in the pre-dynastic Egyptian period, before artificial mummification was developed.