U.S. Patent 1448235: The Baby Cage


Emma Read was issued a United States Patent in 1923 for her design of The Portable Baby Cage. Read the original patent application with drawings HERE.

“They were designed in a more innocent age and with the best of intentions. These incredible pictures taken in the 1930s show babies suspended high up in flats from their parents’ window. Sitting in open mesh cages, the youngsters were completely exposed to the elements outside. Incredibly, the then East Poplar borough council in London proposed to fix the cages to the outside of some of their buildings so that babies could benefit from fresh air and sunshine. The cages were also distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club who lived in high buildings and had no gardens. The benefits were said to be fresh air for the child, room to play with toys and another place for children to sleep. The cages were also designed with a slanted, overlapping roof which was said to protect babies from snow or rain.” [Source: The Oddment Emporium]

All American: Okie Noodling


For centuries, a unique breed of fishermen has been catching monster catfish with their bare hands in the rivers and lakes of Oklahoma. Today, the tradition of “noodling” still has Okie anglers hooked – the noodler motto is No Hooks, No Bait, No Fear. Once a year, competitive noodlers and handfishers meet in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma for the world’s largest noodling contest. Pictured here are some of the 2011 contenders, along with their prize catfish. Wowzers! All images are by photographer Matt Rainwaters (see his full collection of Okie Noodling images HERE).

Over the last decade, noodling (also known as catfisting, grabbling, graveling, hogging, dogging, gurgling, tickling and stumping) has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to a documentary, and two cable network shows.

-Watch full episodes online of The History Channel’s Mudcats and Animal Planet’s Hillbilly Handfishin.
-Learn how to Noodle In Ten Easy Steps

Rockstar Photographers: Haibo Yu & The Chinese Painting Factories

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Photographer Haibo Yu is one of the most prominent documentary photographers in contemporary China. Mr. Yu captured these intriguing images of the Dafen Oil Painting Village where the workers often paint, eat and sleep in their small studio spaces. This small town in China is widely known for its industry of mass replication of masterpieces and popular oil paintings:

One traveler’s account: “On my recent travels to China I visited Dafen painting village; A small village near the Guangzou district that produces an estimated 60 percent of the world’s cheap oil paintings. The village exports about five million paintings every year; with artists producing on average around 30 paintings a day. The majority of these paintings are copies of the old masters, just produced faster, cheaper and, in many ways better. The streets are crammed with Van Goughs, Monets and Mona Lisas, most of which will set you back a mere 50 Euros. It has to be seen to be believed.”

More Photos Here
[via Katonah]

Rockstar Photographers: Daniel Laine and The Kings of Africa

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French photographer Daniel Laine photographed 70 different African monarchs from 1988 to 1991, publishing the photos in a book titled African Kings. Here is a sampling of Mr. Laine’s amazing captures:

Representing the Abomey dynasty, Joseph Langanfin is the president of CAFRA, the council of Abomey’s royal families. With this title, he is considered as the official representative of the kings of Abomey. He presided at the centenary ceremonies for the death of King Glele, who was his great grandfather.

One day, Adama who was also called Modibo, heard that a great Marabout (Moslem leader) by the name of Ousman Dan Fodio, had proclaimed the Jihad (holy war) in Gobir and the Hausa country. At Adama’s death, his immense territory became Adamawa, which actually covers a part of south-west Nigeria and all of northern Cameroun. Today the Lamido has sixty children, and is the chancellor of Amadou Bello University at Zaria, one of the most prestigious universities in Africa.

Six hundred years ago, Olowo, the King, fell in love with Orensen, a very beautiful woman. Unfortunately for the King, she was a goddess who could not live with a human. She was forbidden to see women pounding spices, draw water, or throw a bundle of wood to the ground. Because of his love for the goddess, and in order to marry her, the King promised her that his other wives, in front of her would follow these same restrictions.
After several years, the King’s wives became jealous and revolted. They did everything they were not supposed to do in front of the goddess, who then cast a spell upon the entire kingdom. The goddess promised that people of Owo, would die of famine or sickness if the King and his chiefs did not celebrate every year a ceremony in her honor. The drums should beg her pardon and sing her praises. One also had to offer her a sacrifice of a man and a woman. This ceremony, Igogo, still exists, but the human beings have been replaced by a sheep and a goat.

The Fon (King) is the brother of courageous and powerful animals. At night, he has the power to transform himself into a panther, where he haunts the forest, runs through the savanna and drinks from torrents. When a panther is killed by a hunter, the Fon from Bamileke region are afraid. Will one of them not perish from the death of his double.
Formerly a chief administrator and cabinet chief for the finance Minister of Cameroun in 1964, Kamga Joseph is the thirteenth Fon of Bandjun. On the day of his predecessor’s funeral, he was stopped in the Bandjun market by two Bamileke chiefs, “the hangmen”, in the middle of the nobles and princes who wept the deceased King. Wearing a head dress made of sisal as a sign of humility, he was taken to the noblemen, the “tafo meru”, where he learned during nine weeks how to be a King.

Halidou Sali, the twelfth Lamido (king) of Bibemi, received his kingdom in 1958. He is a descendant of Aido Samba, one of the 42 Kings of Adamawa, who during the eighteenth century carried the flag for the Jihad (holy war) of Ousman Dan Fodio.

The Nyimi Mabiintsh III is fifty years old. He acquired the throne at the age of twenty. As a descendant of god the creator, the king is attributed with supernatural powers. Due to his top position he is restricted by several constraints: he does not have the right to sit on the ground, and he cannot cross a cultivated field. Apart from his cook, no one has seen him eat. Moreover he never travels without him, and his personal cooking utensils.
It took Laine three weeks to photograph the Nyimi (king) of the Kuba in his royal apparel, the “bwantshy”. The outfit made out of material stitched with beads and “cauris” (small shells used as money in Africa), weighs 160 lb. It takes more than two hours to dress the King, and two days of spiritual preparation to be sufficiently purified in order to wear the outfit. The weight and the heat of the bwantshy is such, that it is impossible to wear it more than one hour. The preceding King had only worn it three times during his entire life.

A graduate from the University of London and an economic advisor for the Ghanaian administration, The King of Akropong holds for the last sixteen years the “sacred seat” of the Akuapem-Asona, one of the seven major Akan clans. To his right, his “spokesman” carries the royal emblem, the elephant, a remembrance that his kingdom was founded by force.

The Baba (sultan) of Rey-Bouba rules over fifty five thousand subjects, and his territory is as large as Belgium and Luxemburg reunited (35 000Km2). It is wrong to call him Lamido, because he was never a vassal to Sokoto. A former parliamentarian in the Camerounian Assembly, Bouba Abdoulaye had to leave everything and renounce modern life in order to succeed his father.
His great-grand father, Bouba Ndjidda came from Mali in 1799, with his Fulani warriors, and decided to settle on the borders of Adamawa, at the edge of the Mayo-Rey river. He placed a white flag, a silver drum, a sword and a basket containing the royal secrets, and built a palace with a surrounding wall that was 800 meters long and seven meters high.
Today these walls shelter one of the most traditional sovereigns of Africa. He exercises an invisible and permanent power. He is only allowed to go out three times during the year. The Baba is the center of the world and the kingdom. He knows everything, and has to know everything. Hundreds of agents keep him informed of all the movements and acts in his kingdom.

Eighty years old, the sultan Njoya has been on the throne for more than fifty years. At the age of twenty-nine, he inherited the famous Bamun throne, founded in the sixteenth century. He was chosen, by the kingdom’s council of wise men, among one hundred and seventy-seven of his father’s children, the famous Sultan Njoya.
His father, an enlightened sovereign, spent twelve years to invent his own alphabet, made of eighty symbols. He wanted to be able to write in the Bamun language the kingdom’s history. At this time, the oral tradition dominated. In 1913, while Cameroon was still a German colony, Sultan Njoya equipped himself with his own printing house.

The Emir of Katsina is a passionate follower of polo, and his family has contributed many champions to Nigeria. In the twelfth century, Katsina was a Hausa village, governed by the Durbawa, which was a royal dynasty that had emigrated from a region whose name tradition has lost. One of the Durbawa kings, Janzawa, married a Daura princess from another Hausa state. The Queen Katsina, gave her name to the village which became the terminal of the commercial transsaharien route from Tripoli (Lybia).

On March 23, 1979, prince Salomon, a graduate of Cambridge University, was crowned Oba (king) of Benin. He succeeded his father Akenzua II, and became the thirty-eighth king of a dynasty dating back to the thirteenth century. “The large chalk stick is broken”, was the metaphor used to officially announce the death of Akenzua. Immediately afterwards, the Edo of Nigeria, England and America, shaved their heads. The new growth of the hair signified the rebirth of the kingdom, and the re-establishment of the harmony between man and the elements, that had been broken for an instant by the death.

Find more photos at Design You Trust.
Photos via LifeLounge.

Big Personality: Illustrated Fashion Icons

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Fashion: a distinctive; however, often-habitual trend in a look and dress up of a person, as well as to prevailing styles in behavior. Cartoonist Joana Avillez illustrates a few “larger than life” trendsetters in the modern fashion scene:

[via Refinery29]

Rockstar Photographers: James Mollison & Where Children Sleep

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Photographer James Mollison spent more than three years traveling the world and getting glimpses of where all sorts of children spend the night. He documented his findings in the book “Where Children Sleep,” published by Chris Boot. Here is a sampling of Mollison’s images and excerpts from the captions found in his fascinating book:

Kaya, 4, Tokyo
Kaya’s bedroom is lined from floor to ceiling with clothes and dolls. Kaya’s mother makes all Kaya’s dresses – up to three a month, usually.

Bilal, 6, the West Bank
Bilal’s family are Bedouin Arabs. Their home is a one-roomed shack they built themselves in Wadi Abu Hindi on the West Bank.

Indira, 7, Katmandu, Nepal
Indira’s house has only one room. At bedtime, she and her brother and sister share a mattress on the floor. Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3.

Alyssa, 8, Harlan County, Kentucky
Alyssa lives with her parents in Kentucky. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart.

Dong, 9, Yunnan, China
Dong shares a room with his sister and parents. They are a poor family who own just enough land to grow their own rice and sugar cane.

Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro
Alex does not go to school but spends his time begging on the city streets. Most of the time he sleeps outside, on an empty bench or discarded sofa if he can find one – otherwise on the pavement.

Jaime, 9, New York City
Jaime lives in a top-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue. His parents also own luxury homes in Spain and in the Hamptons on Long Island.

Delanie, 9, New Jersey
Delanie lives with her parents and younger brother and sister in a large house. The children all have their own bedrooms.

Joey, 11, Kentucky
Joey regularly accompanies his father on hunts. He owns two shotguns and a crossbow and made his first kill – a deer – at the age of 7. “Even his teddy bear was camouflaged,” photographer James Mollison noted in a telephone interview.

Nantio, 15, Kenya
Nantio is a member of the Rendille tribe. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her home in Lisamis, northern Kenya, is a tent-like dome made from cattle hide and plastic, with little room to stand.

The book is written and presented for an audience of 9-13 year olds’  intended to interest and engage children in the details of the lives of other children around the world, and the social issues affecting them, while also being a serious photographic essay for an adult audience.

View many more photos at JamesMollison.com.

Rockstar Photographers: Pieter Hugo & The Hyena Men


Follow along as photographer Pieter Hugo recounts his time spent with Nigeria’s Hyena Men:

These photographs came about after a friend emailed me this image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption ‘The Streets of Lagos’. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.

Through a journalist friend I eventually tracked down a Nigerian reporter, Adetokunbo Abiola, who said that he knew the ‘Gadawan Kura’ as they are known in Hausa (a rough translation: ‘hyena handlers/guides’). A few weeks later I was on a plane to Lagos. Abiola met me at the airport and together we took a bus to Benin City where the ‘hyena men’ had agreed to meet us. However, when we got there they had already departed for Abuja.

In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them.

The spectacle caused by this group walking down busy market streets was overwhelming. I tried photographing this but failed, perhaps because I wasn’t interested in their performances. I realised that what I found fascinating was the hybridisation of the urban and the wild, and the paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals – sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel. I started looking for situations where these contrasting elements became apparent. I decided to concentrate on portraits. I would go for a walk with one of the performers, often just in the city streets, and, if opportunity presented itself, take a photograph. We travelled around from city to city, often chartering public mini-buses.

I agreed to travel with the animal wranglers to Kanu in the northern part of the country. One of them set out to negotiate a fare with a taxi driver; everyone else, including myself and the hyenas, monkeys and rock pythons, hid in the bushes. When their companion signalled that he had agreed on a fare, the motley troupe of humans and animals leapt out from behind the bushes and jumped into the vehicle. The taxi driver was completely horrified. I sat upfront with a monkey and the driver. He drove like an absolute maniac. At one stage the monkey was terrified by his driving. It grabbed hold of my leg and stared into my eyes. I could see its fear.

Two years later I decided to go back to Nigeria. The project felt unresolved and I was ready to engage with the group again. I look back at the notebooks I had kept while with them. The words ‘dominance’, ‘codependence’ and ‘submission’ kept appearing. These pictures depict much more than an exotic group of travelling performers in West Africa. The motifs that linger are the fraught relationships we have with ourselves, with animals and with nature. The second trip was very different. By this stage there was a stronger personal relationship between myself and the group. We had remained in contact and they were keen to be photographed again. The images from this journey are less formal and more intimate.

The first series of pictures had caused varying reactions from people – inquisitiveness, disbelief and repulsion. People were fascinated by them, just as I had been by that first cellphone photograph. A director of a large security company in the USA contacted me, asking how to get in touch with the ‘hyena group’. He saw marketing potential: surely these men must use some type of herb to protect themselves against hyenas, baboons, dogs and snakes? He thought that security guards, soldiers and his own pocket could benefit from this medicine.

Many animal-rights groups also contacted me, wanting to intervene (however, the keepers have permits from the Nigerian government). When I asked Nigerians, “How do you feel about the way they treat animals”, the question confused people. Their responses always involved issues of economic survival. Seldom did anyone express strong concern for the well-being of the creatures. Europeans invariably only ask about the welfare of the animals but this question misses the point. Instead, perhaps, we could ask why these performers need to catch wild animals to make a living. Or why they are economically marginalised. Or why Nigeria, the world’s sixth largest exporter of oil, is in such a state of disarray.

Text and photos by Pieter Hugo, an award winning photographer living in South Africa. Check out more at The Hyena & Other Men. [Some website content is not suitable for young children.]

History Through the Lens of Color

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Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color is a “history book through the lens of color”. The authors Keith Recker and Leatrice Eiseman are color experts who give the reader insight into the creative, cultural, and social influences of the day.

Each decade—from the 1900s through the 1990s—discusses the objects “whose colors tell a story about the emotions and aspirations of their creators, their users, and the societies they lived in,” says the authors. They also take into account that “the color of nearly every object changes as it ages.” It is for this reason a rainbow of colors through images is utilized to tell this historical color story. (via V&M)