THE FLAYED ONE
(A possible conversation at the Museum of Natural History in NYC)
A. Oh, look at this unusual sculpture over here.
B. What does the label say?
A. Hmm…”Tall terracotta figure from the Toltec period…called Xipec Totec, ‘the flayed one’ whose powers relate to fertility and spring planting.”
B. What does “flayed” mean?
A. “It represents a practice repellent to us: a person wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim…”
A. Oh, look at that pretty doggy sculpture over there.
PHOTO: The Flayed One, AMNH
SELF PORTRAITS OF THE DAMNED
These wonderfully disturbing images from Thirteenth Floor remind me of outtakes from Pickman’s studio.
IMAGES: Thirteenth Floor, Impale Design
Looking for that special bizarre yet obscure item to complete your cabinet of curiosities? I recommend shopping EarthSeaWarrior (a “Neo-Nostalgic boutique specializing in One-of-a-Kind peculiar home decor misﬁts.”) where you can uncover a treasure trove of morbid memorabilia, ranging from a taxidermy gator head swallowing an antique baby doll to this bat skeleton hanging in a bell jar. Happy Halloween!
Yes, that’s a porpoise fetus.
IMAGE: From the collection of the Bell Pettigrew Museum, St. Andrews, Scotland
WHAT PUPPETS DO BEHIND YOUR BACK
Apparently, they watch television on teeny-tiny sets. That’s the conceit behind Armchair Parade, now on display in the Artist’s Studio at BRIC House in Brooklyn. Dozens of nightmare creations by theater artist and director Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter, Big Fish)—part human, part animal, and part demonic—line the large room all glued to flickering videos from filmmaker Ragnar Freidank with a soundtrack composed by musician Mark Stewart. You can even sit down and join them if you dare. But hurry before the puppets turn off their televisions for good on October 13.
Imagine my delight coming face to face with this stuffed alligator at the Bell Pettigrew Museum at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, after seeing so many of his relatives adorning kunstkammers throughout history. No label copy as to when this bad boy was collected, but the museum’s origins date back to 1838.
BIG FISH STORY
Despite the hullabaloo over the recent Discovery Channel faux-documentary, I don’t know if the prehistoric predator Megalodon is still alive or not. But some eyewitness testimony of things lurking in the sea are quite terrifying. Here’s an 1918 incident reported by David G. Stead from Port Stephens, Australia and recounted in the Richard Ellis book, Great White Shark:
“The men had been at work on the fishing grounds—which lie in deep water—when an immense shark of almost unbelievable proportions put in an appearance, lifting pot after pot containing many crayfishes, and taking, as the men said, ‘pots, mooring lines and all.’ …The men were all unanimous that this shark was something the like of which they had never dreamed of. In company with the local Fisheries Inspector I questioned many of the men very closely and they all agreed as to the gigantic stature of the beast. But the lengths they gave were, on the whole, absurd. I mention them, however, as an indication of the state of mind which this unusual giant had thrown them into….One of the crew said the shark was ‘three hundred feet long at least’! Others said it was as long as the wharf on which we stood—about 115 feet!”
IMAGE: Reconstructed skeleton of C. megalodon on display at the Calvert Marine Museum at Solomon’s Island, Maryland