G'day folks,

A spectacular annual festival centers around humans throwing molten iron against a wall at night. 


Sometime in the 12th century, the Chinese gave the world the gift of fireworks. Despite these jaw-dropping spectacles of aerial magic being appreciated by all, the pyrotechnics remained the provenance of the elite as, to the common man, they were tantamount to setting money ablaze for sheer sport. 


Enter Da Shuhua, or the Festival of Lights, an annual tradition dreamt up approximately 300 years ago by blacksmiths who wanted to participate in the annual Chinese New Year festivities but couldn’t afford the luxury of traditional fireworks displays.

Da Shuhua was their DIY answer to being priced-out of the celebration. Inspired by the sparks of their trade, under the darkness of night, blacksmiths in the village of Nuanquan, located in the the Hebei province, tossed cupfuls of molten iron against the city gate, hard and cool in the winter air. The result was a spectacular shower of blooms resembling giant glowing flowers from which the festival (translating to mean “tree flower”) took its name.

Still to this day, each Lunar New Year, the incredibly bold, somewhat insane tradition of tossing liquid metal heated to 1,000 degrees centigrade at the old city wall with nothing but sheep fur and straw hats for protection continues to stand tall in a city once known for its community of smiths. Though the display originated purely with iron cast against the wall – leaving a thin coating visible year-round – later experiments involved incorporating aluminum and copper into the molten display, producing green and white tones interspersed among the iron’s brilliant red. 

Despite crafting a celebration from out of nowhere that resembles nothing else on earth, only four Da Shuhua performers remain in Nuanquan at last count. Making matters worse is the fact that the majority of these men are over the age of 40, meaning the tradition’s future is a precarious one.

Given such tenuousness, there’s no time like the present to catch a glimpse of Da Shuhua’s fleeting wonder before the populace is once again tricked into thinking fireworks are the most insurmountably beautiful example of fiery magic in our world.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... Here in Australia, we have heaps of fireworks, worth millions, at special events, but it's quickly gone in a puff of smoke. All that glitz might look spectacular for a brief moment, but surely the money could be better used?

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G'day folks,

Yep, it's time to be inspired. Pass these onto whoever needs them.

Clancy's comment: I love the one of the five little ballet girls. 

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23 May 2019 - Spectacular Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chich'en Itza, Mexico

Spectacular Pyramid of Kukulcan
 at Chich'en Itza, Mexico

G'day folks,

Not all pyramids are in Egypt. Every equinox this Mayan pyramid puts on a spooky ancient light show. 

 A two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Cancun takes you away from the thumping parties of spring break and into the once thriving ancient capital of the Yucat√°n Mayans—Chich’en Itza. During the spring and autumn equinoxes thousands of tourists and locals pack in around the pyramid to recreate the parties of a thousand years ago—sans the cutting out of hearts—and to watch the “descent of Kukulcan.” A carnival atmosphere fills the surrounding meadow with sounds of drums, traditional music and cheering crowds.

According to legend, twice a year when the day and night are in balance, this pyramid dedicated to Kukulcan (or Quetzalcoatl), the feathered serpent god, is visited by its namesake. On the equinox Kukulcan returns to earth to commune with his worshipers, provide blessing for a full harvest and good health before entering the sacred water, bathing in it, and continuing through it on his way to the underworld.

A handclap near the base of the pyramidal  results in an unusual chirping echo, which is said to replicate the call of the sacred quetzal bird.

 All legends aside, crafty and mathematically brilliant architecture combined with the natural rotation of the Earth creates an amazing and somewhat eerie image of a giant snake crawling down the temple. For five hours an illusion of light and shadow creates seven triangles on the side of the staircase starting at the top and inching its way down until it connects the top platform with the giant stone head of the feathered serpent at the bottom. For 45 minutes this impressive shadow stays in its entirety before slowing descending the pyramid and disappearing along with the crowd that gathered to see it.

The Pyramid of Kukulcan (also know as El Castillo, a name given by the Spanish Conquistadors) is the central of Chich’en Itza, it was built over a pre-existing temple between 800 and 900 AD. It is the biggest pyramid in Chich’en Itza; at its base 53.3 meters wide on all four sides. It towers above the other monuments at 24 meters tall with a 6 meter temple on top of the highest platform. Before access to the throne room of the pyramid was restricted, you could climb to the top and, on a clear day, see the top of the grand pyramid at the nearby ruin site of Ek Balam.

The Mesoamerican fascination with, and knowledge of, math and astronomy shines when examining the details of its architecture. Each of the four sides has ninety-one steps ascending it, 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an addition step totaling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar. Additionally, the pyramid’s nine stages, bisected by a staircase on each side, represent the eighteen months of the Mayan Calendar year. The pyramid was built to be a physical representation of the Mayan Calendar (the same calendar that predicts the end of the world in 2012), while its orientation, slightly North East, is believed to have been calculated in order to create the phenomenon know as the “Descent of Kukulcan”.

 This phenomena is recreated nightly (artificially) during the Light and Sounds Show at 7pm in the winter and 8pm in the summer.

Chich’en Itza is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Clancy's comment: Amazing, eh? I'd love to visit this wonder. The more I discover places like this, the more I believe we humans haven't come all that far. Some of these ancient people were extraordinary, and they had no computers, Google or Facebook.

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G'day folks,

Welcome to some facts about ancient burial mounds for royalty in Sweden.

Dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, the Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala have been shrouded in mystery for generations. Some believed the three large mounds to be gods Thor, Odin, and Freyr, others thought them to be the burial sites of legendary kings, while some people believed them to be, well, simply natural lumps of dirt. The latter speculation angered Swedish King Karl XV, and in 1830 he commissioned a widely publicized excavation to settle the matter once and for all.

Headed by Bror Emil Hildebrand, the first archaeological dig of the Eastern Mound confirmed that it was indeed a burial site, though findings were less than spectacular: A clay pot of burned bones and some burial gifts. They believed it to be a grave for either a young woman or a young man and a woman. The second excavation in 1874 of the Western Mound yielded more impressive findings of warrior equipment, luxury weaponry, as well as a prominent man dressed in a suit of golden threads. This grave was confirmed to date back to the 6th century.

Though archaeologists were unable to identify the bodies of the mounds, they are quite certain the mounds belonged to a royal dynasty. As Sweden’s oldest national symbols, the Royal Mounds have retained their significance, especially emphasized by a trip from Pope John Paul II in 1989. The three mounds are known today as the Eastern, Middle, and Western Mounds.

Clancy's comment: There ya go. Interesting, eh? I bet you are glad you now know what the mounds were for.




G'day folks,

I bet you will love this informative post. A nightly tradition fills the streets of Flogsta, Sweden, with a collective scream.

The Flogsta Scream occurs every night at 10 p.m. when university students living in Uppsala’s Flogsta neighborhood stop what they’re doing and let out a collective scream from their windows, balconies, and rooftops.

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1970s, though details regarding how or why the tradition started are difficult to come by. The most extensive account of the Flogsta Scream comes from Wikipedia, which postulates that the Flogsta Scream may have started as a way to blow off steam during exam periods or possibly to commemorate a student who committed suicide. The article, however, cites no sources and additional information is scarce.

Still, it’s a useful thing to know, should you find yourself on a nighttime stroll in Uppsala, that the spontaneous shrieks from the nearby dormitories are no cause for alarm.

Clancy's comment: It's probably good for them. Man, there are heaps of times when we all feel like screaming. However, it probably sounds like a mass murder.
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G'day folks,

I'm always on the lookout for ancient discoveries. Check out these ancient belt buckles. Only 10 examples of these type of accessories are known in the world. 

 In a remote part of Russia, near the border with Mongolia, an archaeological investigation has been excavating the graves of Xiongnu people, a nomadic group who lived in what’s now the Tuva Republic from about the 3rd century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. Some of the most striking finds have been in the graves of Xiongnu women, who were buried with fantastic belt buckles made of coal, jewels, and bronze, The Siberian Times reports.




 The belt buckles are decorated with depictions of animals from fictional dragons to panthers, yaks, camels, and snakes.

The coal buckles in particular are very rare. Marina Kilunovskaya, the archaeologist leading the project for the of theRussian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for the History of Material Culture, told The Siberian Times that there are only 10 known examples of these types of belt buckles. Kilunovskaya worked with the archaeologist Pavel Leus, a specialist of the Xiongnu period.

Xiongnu is a Chinese term from that period for nomadic, invading groups seen as a threat to China. In the period that these burials date to, a coalition of nomadic tribes from Central Asia were encroaching on Chinese territory. 

Chinese sources note that Xiongnu women fought alongside men, and the archaeological evidence backs that up. As Foreign Affairs reports, in at least 300 burials found across Asia, the remains of women show signs that they fought in battle. At least a quarter of the women found buried with weapons were active warriors. Both men and women wore elaborate belt buckles, decorated with animals both imaginary and real.

 Excavations at this site, supported by The Society for the Exploration of Eurasia, began in 2015 and are still ongoing. The same area has many burials from the Scythian era, starting in the 2nd century B.C., through the Middle Ages.

Clancy's comment: Extraordinary, but beautiful eh? I bet those female warriors could pack a mean punch.
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G'day folks,

I'm not sure about you but I hate confined spaces, even when having medical tests like Pet and Cat scans. However, others seem to love these spaces. The recent rescue of the Thai soccer boys left me gob smacked. Anyway, check out these hidden spaces from around the world. Many have revealed hidden secrets of life in the past.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... Not for me, unless I can see daylight. What about you?

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