Circassian beauties

November 30, 2010

A seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ideal of womanly beauty.  The Circassians are a Muslim people of the non-sovereign state of Adyghe in the North Caucasus.  Their women became famed for their beauty during the height of the Ottoman Empire when many of them served in the sultans harem.  Beauty products were sold with the Circassian name and P.T. Barnum began to feature supposed “Circassian beauties” in his sideshows to appeal to their oriental exoticism (his women were identifiable by their bushy hair reminiscent of 1970s afros that bore no resemblance to fact).


dialethea

November 28, 2010

A true contradiction.  Dialethiesm is the idea that some contradictions are actually true.  Take for example the famous Liar’s Paradox — “Everything I am saying is false.”  The New York Times recently had this article about the topic.


Cryptid

November 28, 2010

A cryptid is a creature whose existence is debated.  This covers a wide range of animals from the fantastical (yeti, chupacabra, Loch Ness monster) to the the questionable extinct (ivory-billed woodpecker), to animals living outside of their natural range (ABCs, or abnormally big cats of England).

The study of cryptids is cryptozoology.  The lessor studied field of cryptobotany studies plants (like the man-eating tree of South America).