Tuesday 5 November 2019

Occult London: Merman in a Cabinet of Curiosities

I love the concept of cabinets of curiosities. The term makes me think of amazing collections of weird and wonderful things. The collection in the photo above, taken of a display in the World Gallery at the Horniman Museum, fits that description. In the foreground is a fake merman, created in 19th century Japan. Behind that, the mostly hidden object that looks like a wooden spoon with a hole is a 20th century Polish device for removing curses. I have no idea at all how it would work.

Historically, cabinets of curiosities were simply rooms or cases containing items relating to natural history, geology, ethnography, archaeology, religion and history as well as works of art. They were fashionable from the late 16th century right up to the 19th century. Many developed into famous museums, including the British Museum. In later times a cabinet of curiosities came to mean a collection of unusual or strange artefacts rather than simply items of academic interest. The entire Horniman Museum feels like a cabinet of curiosities as it has such a wide range of unusual items - some of the very weird indeed.

The Horniman Museum is at 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London, SE23 3PQ. You can find out more here about its collections here: https://www.horniman.ac.uk/

If you have photographed anything weird and wonderful and want to see the picture shared on A Bad Witch's Blog, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself.

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