Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ostrich Egg-Shell Cups of Mesopotamia

Berthold Laufer - Ostrich Egg-Shell Cups of Mesopotamia and the Ostrich in Ancient and Modern Times (1926)

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The next in the Laufer series starts with Mesopotamian cups made from ostrich eggs then looks at the birds in the Levant, Egypt, Africa, China and finally modern domestication in America.  As usual with Laufer there are such intriguing bits as examples of calling people ostriches as insults among Arabs, French and ancient Romans; mentions in the Hebrew Bible; the use of feathers as decoration; techniques for hunting them (some hunters waited in holes then used the first kill as a decoy for others); and even a quote from Macaulay about John Dryden, "His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar."