Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 Women's March

Hola, everybody!

Today is a big day in the states - the one year anniversary of *president Donald J. Trump's inauguration - and the one year anniversary of marches across the country of millions of women of all races, colors, creeds, ages and physical conditions. 

I am so proud of my sisters, both my sisters by birth and my sisters by choice, on everyday but especially on this day where we unite in common cause in support of equality, justice, and to celebrate our sisterhood.  My hometown's March began at 10 a.m. our time, on my way out the door now, but I wanted to post this map of the United States and Canada showing EVENTS scheduled by Women's March organizers in both countries.  It is truly amazing, awe-inspiring and inspirational.  Goddess bless us all.

Source:  Womensmarch.com.  Women are on the march all around the world, not just
here - everywhere!  You can find events using the search tool.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

St. Anthony's Blessing of Animals, St. Guinefort, St. Christopher, and Dog-Headed People, Yikes!

Hola darlings!

As I was updating myself on the news after a brief nap this early afternoon, I came across a short article at Yahoo News showing a slide show of photographs from the celebration of St. Anthony's Feast Day in Spain, who is the patron saint of animals.

<p>The hand of Santiago Fulero, Major priest of the Saint Pablo church, blesses people with their pets outside of the church, during the feast of St. Anthony, Spain’s patron saint of animals, in Zaragoza, northern Spain, Wednesday, Jan.17, 2018. (Photo: Alvaro Barrientos/AP) </p>
The hand of Santiago Fulero, Major priest of the Saint Pablo church, blesses people with their pets outside of the church, during the feast of St. Anthony, Spain’s patron saint of animals, in Zaragoza, northern Spain, Wednesday, Jan.17, 2018. (Photo: Alvaro Barrientos/AP)
There is a tradition of blessing animals on this day in Spain and some rather bizarre rituals as well, such as riding horses through fire for the benefit of the smoke which is somehow thought to protect them then through the rest of the year. Perhaps a modified version of the "Aryan" horse-sacrifice ritual where the queen then had intercourse with the dead horse? 

Anyway, this led me to thinking about the dog-headed saint that I've written about before, but I couldn't remember his name.  So I did a quick Google search to refresh my memory and lo and behold, up pops a lot of information about an Orthodox icon, St. Christopher (dog headed human), St. Guinefort (a greyhound patron saint in France - brutally suppressed by the Fake Male God Enforcers during the Inquisition) and about a dog-headed RACE of people, I'm not kidding.  Now, honestly darlings, I don't recall at all reading about a dog-headed RACE of people before; I remember reading about the dog-headed saint and writing about him; and I may have read about a poor greyhound dog being made a saint in France but not writing about HIM (why would I not have done this, I'm asking myself???), so I guess last time I wrote about a dog-headed saint I didn't do very good research, or something, hmmm. 

But Holy Hathor, what a fascinating subject!  What is so bitterly ironic about this is that DOGS are the ancient companions of the Great Mother Goddess.  They were thought to be the harbingers and also cleaner-uppers (is that a word?) of Death and always accompanied the Great Mother Goddess during her walks across the Milky Way or the Primrose Path or Route 66, take your pick.  Modern thought also suggest that it may well have been women who domesticated the first wolves into the dogs we know and love so much today, in various places around the world, at various times, some as far back as 16,000 years ago somewhere in the vast plains of Mongolia, but also independently in the ancient Middle East.  I think it's still unclear; not sure I buy into the "happened in several places more or less at once (archaeologically speaking, that is) in several different areas around the world" hypothesis.  What we continue to push back in time is just how old evidence of the domestication of dogs is! 

I'm not going to go into a long, wordy and overblown exposition on these various dog people/dog saints themes - you can read easy :)  But if you want to do some reading on your own, here are some links for your perusal:

Cynocephali in the Ancient Christian Tradition, Scott Nevins, March 10, 2015, from Scott Nevins Memorial

St. Guinefort, Wikipedia entry.  The patriarchal storm god haters of the Great Mother Goddess are much in evidence in the account of the "killer mothers" of their babies. Note in the account that the dog was buried in a well and surrounded by trees to set up a shrine that people came to.  Now please - if this doesn't sound like a sacred Goddess grove complete with sacred spring and her faithful companion buried in her sacred space, what does?  Heeellllloooooooo....

I am intrigued by the reference in the account of passing a baby nine times through an opening between the trunks of two trees in the  "wood of Rimite" -- not sure if this means the woods (location, area?) were called "Rimite" or the particular spot where the babies were allegedly passed between two trees nine times was called "Rimite." I cannot help but wonder if there is some connection between this word (Rimite) and a name in a much earlier document from the second half of the 9th century CE, an Orthodox elder by the name of "Rimbert," as referenced in Scott Nevins' "Cynocephali in the Ancient Christian Tradition" (linked above). 

Could it be that Inquisitioners, who were Roman Catholic, had come across earlier references to Rimbert in either reading or hearing something about inquiries being made on "dog-headed" people many years prior?  Could "Rimite" have been conflated with "Rimbert" and then ridiculous stories made up about Satan seducing women (always women, NEVER men) into killing their own babies to fire up prejudice against uppity women?  I wouldn't put anything past those corrupted rotten dudes in the so-called "holy church" back then.  I should point out that the Inquisition first broke out in France in the 12th century CE in response to what was seen as encroachment on their territory (conveniently called "heresy") by Cathars (which preached equality of females, among other things anathema to the Men in Purple), Albigensians and Waldensians.  St. Guinefort is a localized French saint, never officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. 

Understanding the Dog Headed Icon of St. Christopher, July 8, 2013, Jonathan Pageau, Orthodox Arts Journal. 

There's tons of info out there, get reading!  The more you learn, the more you can fill in the blanks in HERstory yourself. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

China Institute (New York, NY) Offering Weiqi (Chinese "Go") Lessons

Hola everybody!  Hope you are recovered from any New Year's Eve excesses :)

Here's the info on the Weiqi classes being offered by the China Institute in New York city:


New! Chinese Go 围棋 
5-Session Course
Friday Class: 10:00am-12:30pm (1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9) 
Saturday Class: 10:00am-12:30pm (1/13, 1/20, 1/27, 2/3, 2/10)
Go is an international game of the mind, processing very simple rules: players take turns to place black or white stones on a board, trying to capture the opponent's stones or surround empty space to make points of territory. It is also a game of profound complexity, requiring a unique integration and working of analytic (left brain) and artistic (right brain) mental abilities at the same time.  

Originated in China more than four thousand years ago, Go (围棋Wéiqí), together with Zither playing, Calligraphy, and Painting, is one of the four supreme artistic genres in Chinese culture. It is believed that a strong Go skill is an indication of great wisdom. As the oldest game still played in its original form, Go today is popular among men and women internationally at all ages.
Further information

Saturday, December 30, 2017

IM Dorsa Derakhshani Speaks Out on Treatment of Iranian Female Chessplayers by Iran Federation

IM Dorsa Derakhshani (USA 2306) (also holds WGM title) wrote an opinion piece published in The New York Times.  Derakhshani left her family behind in Iran to go to college (St. Louis University) in St. Louis, Missouri USA, home of GM Susan Polgar's Webster University chess program and the billionaire backed Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis and World Chess Museum (the Chess Club and the Museum are located across the street from each other in an uptown section of St. Louis).

Why I Left Iran to Play Chess in America

Dorsa Derakhshani, December 29, 2017

Right now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the World Chess Championships are underway. But some world champions are noticeably absent: The Israeli players were blocked from participating when Saudi Arabia denied them visas.

Chess — a game that I have loved since I first sat down at a board — is pure. It doesn’t care about gender, ethnicity, nationality, status or politics. But too often the countries, organizations and people who enforce the rules in the world of chess are anything but.

This is a subject I know something about.

I was the second-highest-ranked player for girls under 18 in the world in 2016. I am the second-highest-ranked female chess player in Iranian history. And yet my passion for the game has taken me thousands of miles away from my home in Tehran to seek citizenship here in the United States.

From 2011 until 2015 I played for the Iranian national team. I had to follow the official Iranian dress code, which requires women to cover their hair in public. I understood that being a member of the team meant that I was an official representative of the country, so I never broke the rules. But I chafed under them.

By 2015, when I was 17 years old, it was clear to me that other things mattered more to the federation than talent. Just one example: I had won the Asian championship three times in a row when I arrived at the tournament in India in 2014. I was favored to win, given my record. Yet federation officials weren’t focused on my game, but on my clothing. On the very first day of the tournament, they told me my jeans were too tight. I told them I would not participate in the round unless they stopped scolding me.

In the end, I played and won that tournament in India. But time and time again, those in charge of the Iranian national team showed that they cared more about the scarf covering my hair than the brain under it.

Since choosing to leave the team and play chess with no strings attached, I’ve never taken a penny from the Iranian government. My parents pay for all of my expenses, including travel to tournaments. One benefit of flying solo is that I dress the way I want to. I like my outfits to reflect my mood for that day and I don’t like to dress to please others. I no longer cover my hair, including at tournaments.

To me, the choice to stop covering felt morally right, and I never felt a shred of guilt about my decision.

In 2016, I lived in Spain and played under the auspices of various European clubs. Never once did I cover my hair. Never once did I compromise my principles or my pride.

And yet, in February 2017, the Iranian chess federation announced it was barring me from playing in Iran for not wearing a hijab at a competition in Gibraltar the month before. It also barred my younger brother, who had played an Israeli player at that same competition.

The barring was baffling, since I’d already left the national team. But it sent a clear message: Independent thinkers aren’t welcome.

This September, I officially joined the United States Chess Federation and started school at St. Louis University. I write this from Columbus, Ohio, where my college team is competing in a tournament. My parents remain in Tehran.

I miss my family every second of every day, and the pain of not knowing when I’ll see them next never goes away. But their belief in me is the reason I had the strength to make this choice.

My mom was the one who taught me to read when I was only a year old. She put all her time and energy into me and my brother. She and my father taught us by example to be open minded and curious.

From a young age, I was fiercely competitive and I loved solving puzzles and reading people. My parents signed me up for chess classes when I was 6 and it immediately became an obsession. The game was a perfect fit.

My parents have always been my champions and I never wanted to leave home and live without them. But under the circumstances, they decided it was the wise decision to make — not just for my chess career, but for me as a person.

For years, they watched me struggle trying to be myself in Iran. I grew up in a society in which being exceptional, correcting your elders and generally being a smart aleck is shunned. One thing that I love about living in an open society is that I can talk straight. I never follow a script. My human interactions are just that: human. And I am free of fear of being punished for saying the wrong thing. At last, my heart and mind work in unison.

The last time I felt this kind of stability was at my high school in Tehran. The school was a haven for me, a place where I could express myself and the teachers fully respected the students. I have craved to be in a similar environment and, finally, I have found it. What’s more, I managed to join the U.S. federation in a matter of weeks — a rarity and something I remain deeply grateful for.

Unlike on the Iranian team, I am now surrounded by people who respect me as a player and don’t care or notice what I look like. Unlike on the Iranian team, where the officials could ignore a player’s earned right to play a tournament and replace that player with someone they preferred, here the rules are consistent and fair.

In this sense, America at its best reflects the best values of chess. Chess doesn’t care how old you are or what you wear. It doesn’t care about what gender you are, or how much money you have. It is blind to all of that. It cares only about merit.

That’s why I’m applying for United States citizenship and why I hope to someday represent this country in the Olympics. And it’s why barring people from the game based on their ethnicity, religion or clothing is so wrong.

Anna Muzychuk Refuses to Play in Corrupted 2017 World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Saudi Arabia

A few international chess stars stand up for what is right.  I wish more of them had the guts to stand up against this kind of thing and give FIDE and countries like Saudi Arabia the permanent middle finger.

From The Washington Post

Chess champion refuses to defend titles in Saudi Arabia to protest treatment of women

Des Bieler, December 28, 2017

A Ukrainian chess champion is prepared to lose her two world titles rather than defend them in a tournament held in Saudi Arabia. Anna Muzychuk said she would skip the lucrative event to protest the treatment of women in that country.

Muzychuk, 27, is the reigning women’s world champion in both rapid and blitz chess. In a recent Facebook post, she said she “decided not to go to Saudi Arabia” because she did not want “to play by someone’s rules,” including being made to “wear [an] abaya,” the loosefitting garment the country usually requires women to cover themselves with while in public.

Muzychuk also said she was opposed to being “accompanied getting outside,” and to being made to feel like “a secondary creature."

By skipping the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships, which began Tuesday in Riyadh and end Saturday, Muzychuk said she was aware that not only was she set to “lose two World Champion titles — one by one,” but also to pass up an opportunity to “earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined.” The $2 million prize fund for the championships, which have been named for Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was declared by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to be “almost 350% more than the previous event."

The federation also said that the dress code for the event would entail “dark blue or black formal trouser suits, with high necked white blouses” for women. “There will be no need to wear a hijab or abaya during the games, this will be a first for any sporting event in Saudi Arabia,” FIDE announced in November.

Nevertheless, neither Muzychuk nor her younger sister Mariya, a former world champion in her own right, are competing at the championships. “I am really happy that we share this point of view,” Muzychuk said on Facebook.

The Riyadh tournament has also created headlines for the absence of chess players from Israel, who were denied visas. Saudi officials have said that they cannot issue the visas because their kingdom has no diplomatic ties with Israel, while the chess federation in the latter country is seeking financial compensation.

“There needs to be a clear separation between sports and politics,” said Lior Aizenberg, a spokesman for the Israeli Chess Federation. “We want our players to play in all competitions. What is going on in the Arab world does not interest us."

Hikaru Nakamura, the U.S.’s top-ranked rapid and blitz chess player, is also skipping the event. “To organize a chess tournament in a country where basic human rights aren’t valued is horrible,” Nakamura said in a November tweet. “Chess is a game where all different sorts of people can come together, not a game in which people are divided because of their religion or country of origin."

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading an effort, called Vision 2030, to modernize aspects of his society, and in September the government announced that women will be allowed to drive, starting in mid-2018. However, women in Saudi Arabia still need the permission of male guardians to marry, get divorced, attain employment, travel or have elective surgery (per CNN), and mixing with men in public places is still largely forbidden.

“As to whether it was right or wrong, there will certainly be people who will support me and people who will condemn me,” Muzychuk told Reuters of her decision to boycott the tournament. “But I took this decision and I am responsible for it."


Counting Down to the New Year, Winter UGH and Winter Ahhhhhh!

Hola darlings!  Goddesschess hopes you all will have a wonderful celebration for New Year's Eve and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018. 

We are SO cold here, it is horrid.  The Polar Vortex has returned with a vengeance.  UGH!  Even worse, I can't find any forecast that said when this may disappear, if only for a few days.  The entire Midwest all the way east and even engulfing Washington, D.C. are under this Weather Horror Show!  I lived through the dreadful killer Polar Vortex of winter 2012-2013, walking 9 blocks day and night five days a week through feet of snow to and from the bus stop, and I swore NEVER AGAIN.

Ha ha ha, joke's on moi.  I'm no longer trekking to and from the bus stop to go to work, but I still need to go to the supermarket and for my blood draws.  It actually got up to a balmy 9 degrees F yesterday morning as I went to the lab for a blood draw.  I looked like I weighed 300 pounds I was so wrapped up underneath my fuchia down hooded coat.  It takes me 15 minutes just to bundle up!  Then the snow came yesterday evening.  And the winds.  I wasn't expecting this wind.  Windchills today are about 30 below zero F, and we are under a winter windchill advisory. 

Despite the frightful weather (...oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful...) I will have my fireplace going over the next few days to snuggle up close to with a good book (received one for Christmas from Isis in Las Vegas) and tomorrow night I'll see if I can stay awake long enough to make it to midnight, LOL!



I saw this beautiful photo at The Washington Post today, wintery though it is.  It is so evocative of the Goddess to me, complete with black birds :)  Deer (and birds) are associated with various goddesses, of course, and horns of a variety of. animals including deer, have been worn and utilized as symbols of power perhaps as far back as man first appeared on Earth.  For instance, Siberian cave paintings dating back as far as 70,000 years ago show thousands of years of images of deer, sometimes associated with the spirit world. 

This photo was taken on December 28, 2017 in Richmond Park in London.  Originally established as a royal hunting preserve, yet today there are approximately 650 red deer and fallow deer along with multiple species of birds who reside inside its protected boundaries.  How incredibly beautiful!  I especially got a kick out of the hitchhiking black bird, LOL!  Thanks, WaPo, for publishing it this week.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thoughts and Memories on a Happy Winter Solstice!

Hola, darlings!


Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays to all from Goddesschess.  May we all share many more to come, together, and enjoy much comradery, companionship and love this holiday season and for years to come.


Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!  This was a recent view from the front door of Maison Newton retirement cottage - the first serious snow of the season (December 2017).  It's all melted away since then (YES!), but - right on cue - it's snowing today.  DRAT. Looks like we may have a white Christmas here.


What is Christmas without a tree?  This year's version is simple, but sentimentally filled with the hand-blown Egyptian glass ornaments Mr. Don and I bought one Christmas season while out on our annual Christmas Eve shopping spree, gold French ribbon that sat patiently in its storage bin for several years, and assorted ornaments gathered over the years, some dollar-store specials :)


Who are those gorgeous women, oh my!  This pic was snapped by Mr. Don on Christmas Day 2008 in Las Vegas.  It rained and was typhoon-like weather all day and night there, LOL!  We had jumped on a plane on Christmas Eve (got a break in the weather!!!) and made a surprise visit to Georgia a/k/a Isis, one of the founding members of Goddesschess, and her daughter Michelle.  We cooked up a big meal and had a great time.  Later that evening Mr. Don and I went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian Theatre.  It was fabulous - he got so excited, I thought he would fly out of his seat a couple of times at the special effects.  Ahhhh, and that incredible music!  I can sing (badly) practically the entirety of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera in my sleep, I've listened to it so much over the years and love it that much more.  We flew back to my hometown on December 26th.  It was a wonderful get-away!  Hard to believe that was nine years ago, already, and Mr. Don has been gone for five. 

Each day is so precious.  Spend them wisely, and never hesitate to tell somebody how much you love them.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Paul Morphy: Honored in Louisiana

It's not often I write about a male chessplayer, but it's also not often an American newspaper writes an article about a chessplayer, especially one who has been dead for over 100 years, so kudos to The New Orleans Advocate for honoring Paul Morphy, one of the early American stars of international chess in the 1800s and a true master at the open game.

300 unique New Orleans moments: Legendary chess player Paul Morphy born in French Quarter in 1837
  •  

Engraving of Paul Morphy by Winslow Homer appearing in Ballou's Pictorial (1859)
from Wikipedia 
“Genius is a starry word; but if there ever was a chess player to whom that attribute applied, it was Paul Morphy,” according to American chess Grandmaster Andrew Soltis.
Morphy was a child chess prodigy who grew up in New Orleans, the son of a Louisiana Supreme Court justice who learned chess simply by watching the game. At the age of 12, he won two games and had one draw against a famous Hungarian chess player.
The next year, Morphy went to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and then attended law school at the University of Louisiana, which later became Tulane University. He finished his law degree when he was 20, one year shy of being able to practice law. While he waited to practice law, he became determined to beat all the great chess players in the United States and Europe.
He won the first American Chess Congress in New York in 1857 and received a prize from Oliver Wen-dell Homes. He traveled to England to play Howard Staunton, considered the best player in Europe. Staunton, however, refused to meet Morphy. Morphy defeated every other comer who would play him, including in a blindfold tournament in which he defeated eight opponents in another room. Morphy returned to New Orleans a celebrity.
He attempted to start a law practice, but it was said he was un-able to get his clients to talk about anything but chess. He died of a stroke in 1884. In 1964, Chess great Bobby Fischer said of Morphy: “In a set match, Morphy would beat anybody alive today ... Morphy was perhaps the most accurate chess player who ever lived."
Editor's note: This article was changed Nov. 20 to correct where Morphy attended law school.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Oops! Archeologists Were Wrong - There ARE Women in Cahokia Burial Mount 72!

Here is another story that I emailed to myself in August, 2016 that I didn't get around to posting - until here and now.  It's IMPORTANT, too. 

This story is by Live Science, but I found it at CBS News:

Ancient burial mound reveals role of women in "America's 1st city"


An important burial mound belonging to the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis, contains both men and women, not just men as previous studies had suggested.
 
 WILLIAM R. ISEMINGER | COURTESY CAHOKIA MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE

The remains of women and a child have been discovered at a burial mound at Cahokia, considered North America's first city, which previously was thought to hold only men, researchers say.
A closer look at a grave at Cahokia, located in Illinois near St. Louis, Missouri, has revealed that a blanket of beads is intertwined around a man and a woman of high status.
"In re-examining the beaded burial, we discovered that the central burial included females," study co-author Kristin Hedman, a physical anthropologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), said in a statement. "This was unexpected." [Cahokia to Area 51: The 10 Strangest Places on Earth]
Archaeologist Melvin Fowler, who died in 2008, discovered the enormous burial ground in 1967 during the excavation of an unusual mound with a ridgetop. The site, now called Mound 72, contained five mass graves, each holding 20 to more than 50 bodies. There were dozens of other bodies buried by themselves or in groups at the site, bringing the total count to 270, Fowler found.
Scientists dated the burials to between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1200, during the rise and peak of Cahokia's power and influence, the researchers said. Some of the bodies were placed on cedar piles, indicating that they were high-status individuals, according to the researchers.
"Mound 72 burials are some of the most significant burials ever excavated in North America from this time period," said study co-author and ISAS Director Thomas Emerson.
Grave problems
Several analyses of the burials haven't held up, however. Mound 72 holds two central bodies that are placed top of each other. These bodies are separated and surrounded by a blanket of beads, and several other bodies from the same time period surround them.
Fowler and other archaeologists thought that these bodies were two high-status men who were surrounded by servants. Moreover, the beads look like a beaded cape or blanket that was originally shaped like a bird, they said.
The bird motif is usually related to warriors and supernatural beings in Native American cultures, so Fowler suggested that the two central males represented mythical warrior chiefs, the researchers said.
Once this interpretation was made public, many experts viewed Cahokia as "a male-dominated hierarchy," Emerson said.
A fresh look
When Emerson and his colleagues re-examined the evidence -- including the archaeologists' maps, notes and reports -- they came to a conclusion different from Fowler's. For instance, the early archaeologists said there were only six bodies associated with the beaded burial, but the new team found 12.
Moreover, a skeletal analysis revealed that the high-status pair weren't two men, but a man and a woman. The bodies near the power couple are also male-female pairs, and one individual was a child, the researchers said.
"The fact that these high-status burials included women changes the meaning of the beaded burial feature," Emerson said. "Now, we realize we don't have a system in which males are these dominant figures and females are playing bit parts. And so, what we have at Cahokia is very much a nobility. It's not a male nobility. It's males and females, and their relationships are very important." [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

Stunning Jewelry Discovered in Tomb of Northern Wei Dynasty Female from 1,500 Years Ago

I am cleaning out my old email today.  I often email myself links to stories to post here, and sometimes they fall between the cracks.  This one is one of those stories, from August of - 2016!  A wonderful discovery, though.  What is disappointing is that the tomb was excavated in 2011 and the story didn't come out until some five years later.  And now here I am, publishing it more than a year after it first hit the main stream media.

By the way - this isn't an original report on modern-day archaeological by Fox News (that would be a unique event in the annals of history if it ever happens).  The article is from Live Science, LOL!

Ancient bling: Exquisite jewelry found in tomb of Chinese woman

By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor
 




Two gold earrings were found beside Farong's skull in Datong City, China.
Two gold earrings were found beside Farong's skull.  Photo courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics.
Around 1,500 years ago, at a time when China was divided, a woman named Farong was laid to rest wearing fantastic jewelry, which included a necklace of 5,000 beads and "exquisite" earrings, archaeologists report.
Her tomb was discovered in 2011 in Datong City, China, by a team of archaeologists with the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology who were surveying the area before a construction project. The researchers excavated the tomb, conserved the artifacts and reconstructed the necklace.
Farong's tomb was dug into the ground, and her skeleton (which is now in poor condition) was found lying in a coffin archaeologists said. [See Photos of Farong's Burial and Exquisite Jewelry]
"The skull rests on a pillow of lime, and inside the pillow are two bricks with rope patterns," the archaeologists wrote recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. Her age at death is unknown.
Her epitaph, found by the tomb entrance, reads simply, "Han Farong, the wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen" (as translated in the journal article). In China, the surname is traditionally written first and the given name second.
While no other burials were found in Farong's tomb, the archaeologists did discover two other tombs nearby that are in the process of being studied.
Based on the design of Farong's tomb, and the artifacts found inside it, the archaeologists determined she lived around 1,500 years ago, a few decades before the collapse of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), which controlled part of northern China. According to historical records, Datong City, where the woman was buried, was the dynasty's capital until 494.

"Exquisite" earrings

The two earrings the archaeologists found are difficult to describe in words. Made of gold, the earrings contain images of dragons and a human face.
"The human figure has curly hair, deep-set eyes and a high nose; wears a pendant with a sequin-bead pattern on its neck; and has inverted lotus flowers carved under its shoulders," wrote archaeologists in the journal article. The earrings are also decorated with gold, teardrop-shaped designs inlaid with gemstones, as well as gold chains and amethysts that would have hung down the sides of Farong's face.

"In recent years, many gold earrings have been unearthed from Northern Wei dynasty tombs, but the earrings unearthed from this tomb are surely some of the most exquisite," the archaeologists wrote.
Earrings with similar designs were found in 1978 in northern Afghanistan, a sign that the Northern Wei dynasty had strong cultural ties with people in central Asia, the archaeologists said.

Lots of beads

Farong was laid to rest wearing a necklace made of about 5,000 beads. The thread that held the necklace together had decomposed; however, "since the distribution [of the beads] was very concentrated, it was possible to reconstruct it based upon the position of the pieces at the time of excavation," the archaeologists wrote.
The necklace "consists of 10 large and small gold beads, nine flat gold pieces, two crystals, 42 pearls, and more than 4,800 small glass beads," the archaeologists wrote. "The small beads are the size of millet grains, some black and some green, and all are oblate, each with a perforation in the middle."
An article reporting the discovery of Farong's tomb was published in 2015, in Chinese, in the journal Wenwu. This article was translated into English in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.
Original article on Live Science. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. 
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