Women had to be prepared to put up a smiling face in front of two hundred people watching their labor

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Before the evolution of science, childbirth was an arduous process for women. With the absence of proper medical procedures and the prevalence of unsanitary conditions, many young women succumbed to postpartum diseases.

For example, Jane Seymor, third wife of King Henry VIII, perished giving birth to King Edward VI.

More often than not, ridiculous superstitions and bizarre religious processes made childbirth a herculean task. We might think that with power, influence, and abundance of money in the treasury, women from royalty will be spared from these problems.

But it appears that things were not so rosy for them either. Let us look at the strange birthing rituals that the royal women were forced to go through. …


Art

Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.

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The Temptation of Anthony. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2011

Everyone loves perfection. We see millions of artists, past and present, who produce images of precision, capturing the reality with canvas, paint, and brush. We applaud the beguilingly realistic smile of Mona Lisa, the life-like portraits of Caravaggio, and many other others who represent realism.

What if paintings could warp the perception? What if they could piece together disparate chunks of reality and make an amalgam that is beautiful despite being an anomaly?

Surrealism

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The Elephant Celebes by Mark Ernst, 1921. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (PD-US)

Surrealism is a concoction where the artists produce a juxtaposition of uncommon imagery. More than just representing art, Surrealism spread out further, deepening its root in politics as well. …


The aspiring actress found on the side-walk, sawed in half.

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Black Dahlia. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Imagine walking the pavement at about 10 am with your daughter. You are enjoying the weather when you suddenly see two pieces of a mannequin strewn across the pathway. But something is not right. You take a closer look. What you see is straight out of a horror movie.

It is the lifeless body of a young woman, neatly cut in half, all the blood drained. You scream, cover your daughter’s eyes and call the police.

Welcome to the unsolved case of Black Dahlia, aka, Elizabeth Short, one of the oldest unsolved cases from Los Angeles County.

Elizabeth Short

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Elizabeth Short. Underage drinking mugshot. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Elizabeth Short, born on 29th July 1924, in Boston, was an aspiring actress though she did not receive any offers. She was the third daughter of Cleo and Phoebe May Short. Cleo Short abandoned the family in the year 1929 due to the stock market crash under the pretext of a suicide. …


When you want more, far more

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Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

So tantalizingly close, but never farther away
How can you not know I want more? More
Than the friendship you offer
More than the slight kiss on the cheeks.

Nothing is more bitter-sweet than unrequited love. It leaves you craving for more.

In response to Harper Thorpe’s prompt:

Thanks a lot, Chalkboard team, for the wonderful platform and amazing prompts.


Compilations of mutilations, cannibalism, and rape

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Illustration of Hansel and Gretel. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Over the years, the story compilations by the Grimm brothers have a gargantuan impact on our lives and in Disney’s too. The tales have become synonymous with children’s stories and have been adapted into animated movies targeting kids.

But in actuality, the Grimm tales bring the meaning of “age-inappropriate” to a whole new level. The fables have murders, mutilations, sexual assaults, and illicit affairs that they put Greek mythology to shame.

Grimm Brothers and their pursuit

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Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

The Grim Brothers, Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786–1859) were German academics, lexicographer, and authors who collected and edited German and European folklore.

Though it is believed that they had created the stories, they had only collected and compiled the oral tales that had been passed around for centuries. Throughout their life, they collected anecdotes from Danish, Irish folklore, and Norse Mythology, for which they received honorary doctorates from the universities in Marburg, Berlin, and Breslau. …


History, Feminism

James Barry performed the first known successful Caesarean section

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James Barry. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

James Miranda Steuart Barry was a celebrated surgeon of the British Military. His feats in the medical field were astonishing.

During his service in the British Army, he had risen to become the Inspector General of the military hospitals. He not only improved the conditions for the injured but also for the native people residing wherever he took the post. He was the first to perform a successful Caesarean section.

Celebrities are prone to controversies surrounding their lives. James Barry was no different. …


Despite the racial segregation, “Mammy” made a mark

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Hattie McDaniel in 1951. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Actors, especially women, find it difficult to take their first step into the film industry. They are expected to adhere to a specific body type (slim, of course!), have silky straight hair and features of a Greek goddess, all in one package. Everyone wants to see a Barbie sexily sauntering up the red carpet.

While there has been a lax in the expectation and women have been receiving better roles in recent times, there are, still, miles to go before we see more non-white, non-male centric films.

If this is true in the current century, imagine the plight of black women who dream to make it big in Hollywood in the 20th century. …


Some secrets are better buried

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Not the monsters,
Neither the ghosts,
It is the assortment of lies,
Of the vileness inside we host.
We are scared
Of our skeletons in the closet.

“Skeletons in the closet” is an idiom that generally indicates a secret which has a ginormous impact if revealed. The term was used as early as in 1816 in a British Journal, The Eclectic Review. All of us are apprehensive of unrevealed secrets. Those will haunt us all our lives.

Thank you, Chalkboard team, for this incredible collaboration.

In response to Kathy Jacobs spooky collaboration:


The petrifying shield with Medusa has its share of mysteries

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Medusa by Caravaggio. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

The decapitation of Medusa has a lot of influence in art. One of the most notable ones is the Medusa (as well as Murtula) by Caravaggio. Painted in the form of a shield, Medusa is commended for its life-like appearance and unique base of the portrait. It was commissioned as a gift for the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

There are two versions of this painting. Murtula, painted in 1596, was named after the poet, Gaspare Murtola who wrote,

flee, for if your eyes are petrified in amazement, she will turn you to stone.

This version is owned privately. The second was painted in 1597 and is currently displayed in Uffizi Museum located in Florence. …


Since 3000 BC, cancer has wreaked billions of lives

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Tumor removal in 1689. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases in the world. It scars people for life. Whether it’s the treatment or the loss it causes, millions of people have suffered the wrath of cancer. But cancer is not a new-found disease. Shockingly, it is one of the oldest recorded diseases

First Documentation

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Edward Smith Papyrus. Oldest Medical Documentation from 1600 BC. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

One of the earliest documentation of medicine is from around 1600 BC, though there is a possibility that it is from 2500 BC.

The script, what is now called Edward Smith Papyrus (named after the dealer who bought it in 1862), is an ancient Egyptian medical text. …

About

Sandhya Ganesh

I travel beyond yonder yet my reflections stay behind.

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