09 June 2010

PS, Part Four: About Distinctions

Large Spotted Cats
In working on the entries for the Leopard Wranglers, I read five different books on Gozzoli and the frescos in the Medici Chapel. Not one of the authors in those books -- all art historians and so presumably trained to look at details -- managed to make the distinction between leopards and cheetahs that Gozzoli did in the frescos, although one did use a shotgun-technique of referring arbitrarily to "leopards," "cheetahs," and "hunting leopards." [Late note: Joan Lloyd in African Animals in Renaissance Literature and Art makes the distinction.] Gozzoli paints both cats together here.
 The cheetah -- the hunting leopard -- is on the horse.  The leopard is on the ground.  Cheetah spots are single, like thumb-prints.  Leopard spots come in clusters, as if printed by your fingertips bunched together.   Gozzoli makes the animals different colors, though they are actually about the same, and shows clusters of four spots for the leopard: it is much more likely to be five. The spot distinction is really all one needs for the cheetah-leopard issue.  If you bring in other species of spotted cats, which we will not do here, you may need more help.  If you are concerned with hunting any of them them, you have no business here at all. The medievals did not help the distinction by calling cheetahs "hunting leopards," except that it indicated that they were well-aware that there was a distinction. For them, the essential difference was that cheetahs are easily trained to hunt with humans.  They are magnificent fast animals, perfectly designed for Art Deco imagery, with exaggeratedly small heads and large haunches. A leopard of the same body length as a cheetah is, but with a larger, proportionately broader skull.  They are over all heavier, bulkier, and highly resistant to training. They are killers, tracking and pouncing over comparatively short distances, but they are not good over long distances.  Leopards were collected for their beauty and exotic qualities, along with lions, ostriches, and cheetahs -- and that is why two of them are shown in the Medici frescos -- but serious hunters wanted the cheetahs. The painters, frankly, did not pay much attention to the head and skeletal distinctions between the animals, but they were very clear about the spots. In the entry (link above) I wrote about Nick Nicholas' exhaustive article on the topic of nomenclature.  Knowing the differences between the names and animals is not a major life skill necessary for most people: knowing that there are differences and how to look for them is. [Late note: that may not be a leopard.  Please read the comments at the end of this.]         
Hats
I have read too many comments this year identifying the imperial Palaiologan hat as a skiadion, a shade-hat. Interestingly, it is almost impossible to find a contemporary Greek representation.  The only one I know, I have used here before, but it has nice detail. 
Pseudo-Kodinos, who told us about the Leopard-Wranglers, has a lot of entries on the skiadion. "The skiadion of the despot is entirely covered with pearls, on his aer (see the tails on Manuel's hat below) is his name in gold embroidery. . . . If [the despot is a young boy] he is on horseback, he wears the skiadion. When he becomes an adolescent, he wears the skiadion in the palace. . . the skiadia of the relatives of the emperor, who are despots, are red and gold, embroidered with gold thread, and have a cross embroidered with pearls. . . The skiadion of the sebastokrator is red and gold, embroidered with gold thread.  His aer is like that of the despot."   Headgear is not enough to distinguish rank at the Palaiologan court.  You need the full description of robes and colors, embroidery on robes, and colors of shoes to have any sense of security, but it does let you know that however poor the empire had become, there was full employment for the gold-embroiderers. The skiadion has been repurposed in the witch hat.
Update: one of my most faithful readers sent me another late 15th C image of skiadia, from the Istituto Ellenico in Venice. Emperors might have worn the skiadion in private, but in public performance -- at least in the West because that is where the images come from -- they wore the kamelaukion.  I don't know if the name refers to a camel's hump.  It is rounded and sectioned, rather like a melon, and is sometimes called a melon hat.  John's had jewels on top that could be changed.  To my knowledge, there is no Byzantine image of an Emperor in a kamelaukion, but the Westerners loved it and made images of Manuel II, John VIII, and Thomas Palaiologos.  This is Manuel, more or less -- his beard was white -- from the Tres Riches Heures of the Duc du Berry.
John's hats are more familiar, and he was more concerned about his personal style.
It is difficult to get good photographs of images of Thomas, but he is shown here from the tomb of Pius II who made a feeble effort to make him Emperor:
Western artists, when not painting visiting Palaiologoi, used the kamelaukion to represent "exotic person from Eastern country where they have better hats than us." 
There is only one Byzantine representation of a kamelaukion that I have been able to find, and I have given it an entry of its own, the portrait of Manuel Laskaris Chatzikis at Mistra.  There are, I think, exceptional reasons for this portrait, but you will have to read about them there.
Further update: the same reader found a miniature image of kamelaukia in the 14th-C manuscript of the Tale of Alexander in the Istituto Ellenico of Venice.  Here, even though by a Greek artist, they are used to identify exotic foreigners.  So it may not indicate Palaiologan use.

18 comments:

  1. On rereading, I think I have found out what the aer mentioned up in the Pseudo-Kodinos is. Look at the picture of Manuel, five pictures up, with the two streamers on the back of the hat. They would work well for the aer and for the embroideries PK describes them as having.
    DGW

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  2. I think the silvery colour and the long facial hair may indicate a snow leopard.
    I tried to find a picture of an Anatolian leopard but it is not an easy task when the animal is, or is nearly, extinct. The best I can come up with is this leopard that swam to Samos one and a half century ago.

    http://www.espressonews.gr/files/ArticlePhotos/20091010/thumbs/kaplani_494x320.jpg

    It must have been a glorious beast once but, apart from being imperfectly stuffed, it had been shut in a cave for three months in the hope it would die from starvation. It did not, so the bravest of the villagers did.

    The hat in the penultimate picture reminds me of a woodcut of 15th c. Greeks by Erhard Reuwich. If you haven't got it I can send it.

    Best regards,
    Pavlos

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  3. I checked for kamelaukion and it appears all Greek dictionaries are in agreement. It comes from the late Latin camellaucium < camella = a wine goblet. So it is the wine-goblet-turned- upside-down hat.

    Best regards
    Pavlos

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pavlos, your Anatolian leopard is sad. I am thinking lynx now for the non-cheetah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lynx_lynx2.jpg and I should have thought of it sooner. There is a convincing leopard, far back in one of the frescos, bringing down a large animal, but I can't get a clear enough image to show.

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  5. I thought of a lynx too but I think I can see a tail behind the keeper's leg. If that is a tail then it is either not a lynx or the artist had a very poor recollection of it.

    Best regards
    Pavlos

    ReplyDelete
  6. Something that has just crossed my mind. What if they crossed cats? What if it is a hybrid?


    Best regards,
    Pavlos

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's the rest of the hind leg, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have checked the bigger picture and it is definitely a tail.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8Vs-_MStWMc/S7qiZanNo6I/AAAAAAAACTY/sThOLkYE24E/s1600/Both-cats.jpg

    Best regards,
    Pavlos

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Diana,

    interesting post as alway.
    I thought that you would find interesting some pictures from the 14th century0 illustraded Greek manuscript of the "Mythistorima tou Alexandrou" owned and preserved today by the Instituto Ellenico.

    You can find pictures that have people wearing these hats:

    http://194.177.217.107/gr/showpic.asp?gotonumber=&vmagnification=500&picpath=9999_min_01_143v&curTable=miniatures&curRecord=171&vorder=171&vmode=previous

    Greeting
    Babis

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  10. And this icon depicts people wearing that kind of hats:

    http://194.177.217.107/gr/showpic.asp?picpath=12_8bit_PE-IC8-DS2-Q3&curtable=icons&currecord=12&vorder=1&vmode=first

    Its from the second half of 15th century, by an anonymous Cretan.

    http://194.177.217.107/gr/icons.asp?cursort=iconTitle&selectFieldValue=&vpage=2

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  11. Terrific, thank you so much. The other skiadia picture I used is also second-half of 15thC, Cretan. Why did they paint them after it was too late?

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  12. Who knows. Maybe we are not that lucky to have more art pieces survived, that could have contemporary customes depicted.

    I was trying to find out what kind of dress did the ordinary Moreot wore during the 14-16 centuries. Haven't Venetians referred in any of their archives to the dress of Greeks or Arvanites of the Peloponnesos during the years of their involvement in the things here ?

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  13. Another skiadion from a 15th century musical codex.

    http://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BF:Ioannis_Koukouzelis.jpg

    John Koukouzelis, the saint who lived on broad beans and peas (koukia kai zelia).

    Best regards,

    Pavlos

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi: Which painting has the detail of the three men, 2 with turbans and one "exotic" person, please. It looks like a hat on Hermes pictured on ancient greek red figure pottery (500 BC) that I am using for a sculpture.

    Thanks for your help

    Kurt

    http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/tools/pottery/painters/keypieces/redfigure/berlin.htm

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  15. Thanks for asking. That is Carpaccio, "St. Stephen being consecrated as deacon." I hope this link works for you:

    http://www.wga.hu/preview/c/carpacci/4stephen/1consec.jpg

    at

    http://www.wga.hu/

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  16. Dear Diana Gilliland Wright,
    I am a History student from Italy. First of all, thank you for your always interesting posts. I have a question to ask: are the hats worn by some of the characters of Buonamico Buffalmacco's "trionfo della morte" (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pisa,_Camposanto_trionfo_della_morte_1.JPG)kamelaukia? They look very similar to me! Thank you so much for your attention!
    Lidia Zanetti

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  17. Very similar, but I don't think so. The West had similar hats with high tops & folded brims. The kamelaukia seem to have had ridges, like the melons for which they are named. I think they were rigid hats, & these in the fresco -- thank you for the picture -- seem soft.

    ReplyDelete

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