Macchiarini Dot Bracelet (2014)

Macchiarini Dot Bracelet (2014)
by Daniel Macchiarini (1954-)
11 in., 136 g: ebony, ivory, turquoise, lapis, hardwood, sterling silver back, with brass framing and inlaid copper, silver and bronze dots and lines
Coppola Collection

This is the seventh “dot bracelet” that Danny has done for me. Here it is whilst under construction on his bench, following by some other views.

Chihongo (Spirit of Wealth) Chokwe Tribal Mask (Angola)

Chihongo (Spirit of Wealth) Chokwe Tribal Mask (Angola)
Late 19th/early 20th century
Wood, 15.0 x 13.5 x 7.5 in
Coppola Collection

Gaunt features, sunken cheeks, and jutting beard of an elder characterize a chihongo mask. Chihongo was formerly worn only by a chief or by one of his sons as they traveled through their realm exacting tribute in exchange for the protection that the spirit masks gave. The eyes closed to narrow slits evoke those of a deceased person.

Found amongst the Chokwe of Angola, these masculine masks (Chihongo, meaning ‘spirit of wealth’) are used to symbolize wealth and power. The masqueraders wearing the mask pay homage to male ancestors believed to be responsible for the prosperity and strength of the community. Traditionally used to represent the male chief ancestor Chihongo, the masks were once only reserved for use by chieftaincy during royal events such as the initiation of a new chief.

Today, men of the community wear these masks for entertainment purposes, during masquerade celebrations (danced together with the female counterpart, MwanaPwo) to bring fertility, peace, wealth and wellbeing to the village.

Distinguishing Features of Chihongo masks:
Made of wood
Gaunt, angular features
Prominent arched eyebrows
High forehead
Protruding ears are usually curved or semi-circular with the tragus depicted
Eyes placed in large, concave sockets
• Usually almond-shaped
• Usually half-closed slits
• Swollen eyelids prolonged down to centre of concave eye-sockets
Sunken cheeks
Sharply defined broad mouth
• Usually the full width of mask
• Partially open
• Protruding flattened lips
• Filed triangular teeth
Jutting beard (horizontal disc like projection at chin)
Top of mask is lined with holes for attaching elaborate headgear

Scarification usually engraved, cut away or carved in relief (older masks always depict scarification which was seen as a sign of beauty along with filed teeth). Scarification marks include:

Cingelyengelye: triangular marks on the centre of the forehead representing the Chokwe creator god, Nzambi
Cijingo: circular sun disks carved on the cheeks, denoting a spiral brass bracelet
Mitelumuna: carved on the forehead and extending to the temples, denoting ‘knitted eyebrows’ to show arrogance or dissatisfaction
Masoji: vertical marks carved under the eyes, denoting tears
Kapile: patterns on the chin
Kangongo: deep line down the nose

I have got to find me some feathers. Here is an example of what you do with those holes around the head!

Caesar (minted 49-48 BCE)

Caesar (minted 49-48 BCE)
Mint: likely a military mint traveling with Caesar in late 49 BCE
4.12 g silver, 21.5 mm
Sear 1399 RSC 49
Provenance: Historical Real Treasures (Agustin A Garcia B – ANA R-3120473)
Coppola Collection

 This was the first coin struck in the name of Julius Caesar.

The Great Roman Civil War (“Caesar’s Civil War”) marks an important transition moment from the Roman Republic (509–27 BCE) to the Roman Empire (27 BCE–CE 476).

The War (49–45 BCE) began as a series of political and military confrontations between Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) and the conservative, traditionalist factions of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey (106–48 BCE), a contemporary of Caesar, who ended up fleeing to Egypt after the Battle of Pharsalus and getting beheaded upon arrival.

During the Republic, the river Rubiconmarked the boundary between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy proper.

Roman law specified that only elected magistrates could command troops within Italy. Anyone entering Italy at the head of his troops forfeited his imperium (“right to command”). Forbidden by law, exercising imperium was a capital offence. Furthermore, obeying the commands of a general who did not legally possess imperium was a capital offence. Generals were thus obliged to disband their armies before entering Italy.

In 49 BCE (attributed: January 10) C. Julius Caesar led a single legion south over the Rubiconand into Italy to make his way to Rome. In doing so, he (deliberately) broke the law and made conflict inevitable. According to descriptions of the event, Caesar uttered the famous phrase “the die has been cast” upon crossing.

The phrase “crossing the Rubicon” has survived to refer to any individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action, similar to the modern phrase “passing the point of no return” or any of the other versions that appear in many languages.

Caesar was later proclaimed dictator, first for ten years and then, only half way through this first term, in 44 BCE, dictator in perpetuity (Dictator perpetuo). This proclamation motivated the end of his reign, and his life, with his assassination on March 15, 44 BCE, the Ides of March. His adopted son, Octavius, fought another civil war against remnants of the Senate, ultimately resulting in the establishment of the Roman Empire.

These coins were minted after Caesar’s invasion of Italy (crossing of the Rubicon) and until he defeated Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus (ca. 9 August 48 BCE).

Analysts see Caesar’s elephant as trampling a carnyx (a Celtic war trumpet, decked out as a dragon), symbolizing Caesar’s victory over the Celtic tribes of Gaul. The reverse side shows items related to Caesar’s office of Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of Rome (a title now held by the Pope): culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), secures (sacrificial ax), and an apex (priest’s hat).

“Captain America” #118 p 12 (October 1969)

Captain America 118 p 12 (October 1969)
by Gene Colan (1926-2011) and Joe Sinnott (1926-)
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

The Falcon Fights On!

In the previous issue, Captain America trained Sam Wilson how to fight and provided him the identity of the Falcon.

The Red Skull has used the Cosmic Cube to switch bodies with his hated foe Captain America, and been working to destroy Cap’s reputation.

On this page: while at Avengers Mansion, Rick Jones laments over being rejected by “Captain America,” little realizing it was really the Red Skull posing as his mentor. Ripping up a picture of Cap, Rick decides to leave and try to find his own way (and soon ends up occupying Captain Marvel’s timeshare in the Negative Zone – and that’s a different story).

“Black Cat Mystic” #60 p 2 (November 1957)

“Black Cat Mystic” #60 p 2 (November 1957)
by Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and Syd Shores (1916-1973)
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

60 Years Ago!

A Snap of the Fingers (5 page story)

A hypnotist engages a sophisticate to carry out a scheme. The hypnotist makes the guy take on his identity and dies accidentally, so the guy cannot end up claiming the fortune.

Classic pre-hero era comics from Jack Kirby. This was Kirby’s last issue, while issues 58 to 60 of Black Cat Mystic were essentially all Kirby comics. Jack had begun doing freelance work for DC, which paid more than Harvey. However, according to the Kirby historians, this does not seem like a complete explanation because he did not get as much work from DC as he would have liked. So Kirby sudden absence from Black Cat Mystic remains a minor mystery.

“Captain America” #102 p 9 (June 1968)

Captain America #102 p 9 (June 1968)
by Jack Kirby (1917-1994) and Syd Shores (1916-1973)
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

50 years ago!

“The Sleeper Strikes” is the third of a 4-parter that kicked things off after the premiere of the first stand-alone Captain America book of the modern age. Naturally, Cap’s main nemesis, the Red Skull, was lurking around, along with a update on the biggest weapon the Skull ever devised: the Sleepers!

On this page, Captain America has failed in stopping the Red Skull from awakening a fourth Sleeper robot, which can become intangible and is destroying strategic US locations with its power blasts.

King Kirby all the way.


Butsuzō zui 仏像図彙(vol 4) 1690

Butsuzō zui 仏像図彙(vol 4)
Author: Hidenibu Tosa
Date: 1690 (Genroku 元禄3)
23 x 15 cm, 50 pp. (all illustrated)
Coppola Collection

Using a carved woodblock to press out the pages of a book dates to about 650-700 CE, in the reproduction of Buddhist scripture.

Although the printing press emerged in the mid-1400s, pictographic languages were really not that suitable to moveable type (and lithography required a degree of industrialization), so using carved wooden blocks as the source of impressions was common for hundreds of years in Asian countries prior to industrialization (in Japan) and the introduction of photographic methods, both in the late 1800s.

Butsuzō-zui (仏像図彙), or Illustrated Compendium of Buddhist Images, was first published in 1690, and has since become a landmark Japanese dictionary of Buddhist iconography. The texts include hundreds of black-and-white drawings, with deities classified into categories based on function and attributes.

An expanded version was published in 1783.

Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) was the first modern scholar to introduce the Butsuzō zui to Europe and western audiences. He included images from the 1783 edition in his landmark Nippon Archiv zur Beschreibung von Japan(1831).

The text has remained a primary source on Japanese religious iconography for generations of scholars in the West, including Émile Guimet (1836-1918), the founder of the Paris-based museum Musée Guimet, and Louis Frédéric (1923-1996), who used it extensively in his Buddhism(Flammarion Iconographic Guides).


Honorius (minted 395-402 CE)

Honorius (minted 395-402 CE)
Mint: Mediolanum (Milan)
4.4g gold, 21 mm
RIC X 1206; Sear 20916
Provenance: James H Cohen (NOLA)
Coppola Collection

“I wonder if the Emperor Honorius, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill, could truly realize that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is really just another page of history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of our civilization?” (Captain Jean-Luc Picard, to Guinan, anticipating the Borg attack in Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Best of Both Worlds I,” the third season’s finale, broadcast June 18, 1990)

Honorius (Flavius Honorius Augustus; 9 September 384 – 15 August 423 CE) was Western Roman Emperor from 393 to 423 (age 9-39). He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of Arcadius (b. 377), who was the Eastern Emperor from 395 until his death in 408 (age 18-31).

The most notable event of Honorius’s reign was the assault and Sack of Rome on August 24, 410 by the Visigoths under Alaric. Rome had not been attacked in almost 800 years. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, having been replaced in that position first by Mediolanum in 286, where this coin was minted, and then by Ravenna in 402, where other versions of the Honorius coin were minted.

Stilicho, Honorius’s principal general, was both Honorius’s guardian (during his childhood) and his father-in-law (after the emperor became an adult). Stilicho’s generalship helped preserve some level of stability, but with his execution in 408, the Western Roman Empire moved closer to collapse.

Rome was under siege by the Visigoths shortly after Stilicho’s deposition and execution. Lacking his strong general to control the by-now mostly barbarian Roman Army, the indecisive Honorius could do little to attack Alaric’s forces directly, and apparently adopted the only strategy he could in the situation: wait passively for the Visigoths to grow weary and spend the time marshaling what forces he could.

Honorius died of edema on 15 August 423, leaving no heir.

The Western Empire fell in 476 CE after the one-year reign of Honorius’s ninth successor, Romulus Augustus. His deposition by Odoacer, a soldier who became the first king of Italy, typically marks the end of ancient Rome and the start of the Dark/Middle Ages.

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East, starting from ca. 300 CE, and through the Dark/Middle Ages and the Crusades, when its capital city, Constantinople (Istanbul), fell to the Turks in 1453, following the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which began in 1300.

This is really just another page of history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of our civilization? — turn the page.”

Turiang shipwreck: pre-celadon fish plates (ca. 1370)

Pair of pre-celadon underglaze-ware plates, decorated with fish
Recovered from the Turiang shipwreck (ca. 1305-1370) by Sten Sjostrand
24 cm (9.5 in.) in diameter
The Coppola Collection

Turiang is the name given to a shipwreck found on May 13, 1998 in the South China Sea, not far from Singapore. The plates were made at the Sukhothai kilns by immigrant potters from Cizhou in northern China. The underglaze decoration, a stylized fish (long life) motif on top of a slip layer in iron oxide before glazing, is typical of the 14th -15th century production at Sukhothai. The one on the left (above) is one of the very few fish plates were the fish is pointing to the right. The base of the plate shows the typical Sukhothai clay with white (quartz) impurities, and they are exceptionally rare.

For more about Shipwreck stoneware and porcelain, see here.