Saturday, October 31, 2009

Square 76: Boo!

Square 076

I haven't done much special for Halloween the past few years. Next year should be the year to change that.

I used to enjoy it to the max. My favourite costume ever was the Viking outfit my parents helped me put together in grade nine. Dad cut a round shield out of plywood and we stained it brown. The sword and ax head were also cut from wood, but he beveled the edges and painted them silver for greater authenticity. I used cardboard and aluminum foil to make a peaked helmet complete with nose guard. Under my shoes I wore bulky wool socks criss-crossed with rawhide laces. A bulky sweater resembled chain mail, and I cut a cloak out of green cloth. The best thing about that costume was it provided months of enjoyment as props for fantasy games in the woods with my neighbours.

On a more gruesome note, the November issue of National Geographic contains a riveting article about animal mummies from ancient Egypt. The culture venerated some animals as gods and gave them elaborate burials. They alos prepared pets to accompany their masters in the afterlife. For the journey, the dead were also provided with food—essentially mummified jerky.

An entire economy revolved around providing worshipers with votive mummies. When you entered a temple, it was safest to go equipped with a specimen of the god's favourite animal to offer as an intercessor. Many thousands of cats, ibises and other animals were dispatched, embalmed and wrapped in cloth for this purpose. It was a lucrative business, and bred corruption. Modern scans reveal some of the most lavish mummies contain no real animals at all, just mud or perhaps a few bones.

This ancient culture seemed to have more reverence for death than live. It is both fascinating and morbid to consider, a delightful little yarn to inspire your Halloween dreams. I tried to make a square out of the most ghoulish colours possible, but it turned out eerily lovely. Happy Halloween.

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