Unmaking a Priest: The Rite of Degradation
The defrocking ceremony was meant to humiliate a disgraced member of the clergy while discouraging laypeople from viewing him as a martyr.
Dummy Boards: the Fun Figures of the 1600s
These life-sized painted figures, popular in Europe and colonial America in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, were designed to amuse and confuse.
Marshall Islands Wave Charts
Charts constructed of carefully bound sticks served as memory aids, allowing sailors of the Marshall Islands to navigate between the islands by feel.
Victorians Mourned with Vulcanized Rubber Jewelry
Nineteenth-century Anglo-American mourning rituals called for a period of sentimental sadness, but they also demanded an investment in clothing and jewelry.
Cairo’s Zabbaleen and Secret Life of Trash
In Egypt's capital, members of an impoverished Coptic population strengthen community ties while making a living as ragpickers.
Walking Streetlamps for Hire in Seventeenth-Century London
Much in the same way we hail cabs in cities today, a medieval Londoner could hail a torch-bearer (a link-boy) to light their way home from a night on the town.
A Tale of Two Times: Edo Japan Encounters the European Clock
In country that followed a time-keeping system with variable hours, the fixed-hour clock of the Europeans had only symbolic value.
Keeping Time with Incense Clocks
As chronicled by Chinese poet Yu Jianwu, the use of fire and smoke for time measurement dates back to at least the sixth century CE.
Gold Weights and Wind Scales in the Asante Empire
The ornamented tools used to ensure fair market transactions also conveyed the stories and values of the Akan peoples.
Paintings Made of Stone
Renaissance painters incorporated the inherent qualities of stone to produce works of art that revealed the beauty of nature and hand of God.