Blog Archives

Glimpses of History #2: The Origin of Tools, Arts, and Belief

While many animals have learned to manipulate objects such as twigs to release food from inaccessible places, humans are the clearest example of what psychologists call “theory of mind.” People’s instinctive identification of their own and other people’s minds or mental states, including beliefs and thoughts. The ability to attribute mental states to oneself and to other individuals and thereby to be able to predict the behavior of others develops from a very early age in humans.

The Origin of Tools, Arts, and Belief

Early art indicates that this is as old as humanity—depictions of people and events are physical manifestations of mental processes, made to look recognizable to others, and with this came other significant abilities.

Studies of the sociocultural backgrounds of particular art objects, forms, and styles center judiciously upon the art as part of a larger system. In other words, dedicated, anthropologically based study of art is desired, which would try to find data about art and its environments from a number of different societies and pull out all the stops to station such studies in a equivalent conceptual framework.

One is that an individual can imagine what another individual might do; verbal communication can go beyond information and orders into storytelling and attempts to guess another’s reactions: associated regions of the brain developed rapidly in this period (some have suggested that civilization began with the ability to gossip). Another is that composite and abstract notions can be communicated, containing plans for hunts or future projects—things that cannot be seen. A third significance is an awareness that this ability ends when an individual dies: surprisingly early, we find humans buried with personal objects.

Venus of Willendorf

Archaeology as a branch of learning endeavors to reconstruct the origin, prehistory, and history of the human race using objects remains such as relics, settlements, ramparts, burials, and skeletal remains. The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1-centimeter-tall Venus limestone figurine assessed to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. It was unearthed by Josef Szombathy on August 7, 1908 near Willendorf in Austria. It is now housed in the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum,) Vienna. Such figures are acknowledged to have been made as representations of fertility or fecundity, intended to bestow or ensure fruitfulness in some form.

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Phenomenon That’s Guernica—Picasso’s Fabled Artwork

The Phenomenon that's Guernica---Picasso's Fabled Artwork

To tackle appreciating the art of Spain, you can certainly hit the top highlights. That would include the Prado Museum in Madrid, arguably Europe’s greatest painting museum. Also in Madrid is Picasso’s Guernica, a monster painting that not only is a testament against modern warfare but is so much part of the Spanish history with its horses and bulls and weeping women imagery and gets right to the heart of Spain’s Civil War.

I’d certainly put on the list the Alhambra in Granada. This is evocative of 700 years of Muslim settlement in Spain which we now think of this great Catholic country but for 700 years ago it was Muslim. The Alhambra is a lush Arabian-nights-wonderland is the best place to appreciate the Muslim settlement of Spain.

Finally there’s Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This gives the grandeur of Spanish dreams into this cake-melting-in-the-rain sort of architecture with the soaring towers this become very much the symbol of the city of Barcelona.

The Prado Museum’s incredible wealth of paintings is my favorite collection of paintings from all of Europe. Madrid has so many art treasures because it was the capital of the Spanish colonial empire. The Prado’s collection is illustrative of the how important Spain was in the past. There are a lot of famous Flemish paintings there because the Netherlands was actually a Spanish colony.

The Guernica, located in Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain’s National Museum, is incredible painting by Picasso. In a lot of ways it is the painting of Europe—when you talk about the struggles of the 20th century. The reason why Guernica is located in Madrid is that Picasso was the curator of the Prado Museum during those 12 years in the Spanish Civil War and that is always his cubist interpretation of the Spanish Civil War. The message is absolutely bleak, with direct impact. In black and white, the piece has the importance of a newspaper photo. Flailing bulls and horses illustrate that the visceral horrors of war are not just an insult to human civilization, but to human life.

Picasso Painting Guernica For many years Picasso’s Guernica was actually in exile in New York City and that’s because Picasso insisted that the painting was so much against the then dictatorial government of Spain, led by Francisco Franco. Picasso would not allow his painting to be in a Franco-ruled Spain and it wasn’t until Franco finally died and a new democratic regime came in to power that that painting could be repatriated and brought back to its homeland. Guernica is a vast canvas in solemn tones of grey and blue, it shows in scorching detail the suffering of people and animals as bombs fell on their town.

Guernica is actually a town in the Basque Province of northern Spain, to the east of Bilbao. Formerly the seat of a Basque parliament and it was bombed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, by German planes in support of Franco. This event is depicted in the famous painting by Picasso. Picasso’s painting of the bombing of Guernica is one of the 20th century’s most famous images.

Franco died in 1975, but sadly Picasso died two years before that and he lived to see the day when his most famous painting went back to his homeland. Picasso pledged that neither he nor this painting would ever pay a visit to Spain until democracy was restored. This did not happen until 1978, five years after his death.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Glimpses of History #1: Early Humans

Australopithecus - Fossils of Early Humans The term australopithecine refers to any member of the extinct genus of human-like hominids Australopithecus, supposed to have existed between 4 million and 1 million years ago in southern and eastern Africa.

The most compete fossil material is known from the Ethiopian archaeological spot of Hadar, about 50 km (30 mi) north of Aramis, where deposits returned fossils dating between 3.4 and 2.9 Ma. In 1974, an incomplete skeleton was found and recognized as a female by its pelvic bones (and small size compared to other fossils) and nicknamed Lucy. This person would have stood only 3.5 ft (106 cm) tall and weighed possibly 65 lb (30 kg). In Ethiopia, the assembly is also known as Dinkinesh, which suggests “you are marvelous” in the Amharic language.

The history of human evolution expands both onwards and backwards from this point. Hominidae, the taxonomic ancestors that humans share with their closest living relatives, the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos, the latter controversially proposed to be closer to Lucy than modern humans) shared a mutual ancestry up until rather recently in evolutionary terms, possibly distinguishing 6 million years or so ago. The first beings to walk erect easily seem to have been the Australopithecus genus, developing around 4 million years ago; they had smaller brains than even modern apes, and became destroyed perhaps 2 million years ago. However, they were capable of developing tools, and genus Homo (which involves contemporary humans) evolved from them.

Members of the family Hominidae, including our own species Homo sapiens, our supposed ancestors Homo erectus and Homo habilis, and forms believed to be intimately related called collectively the australopithecines. Many scientists now also incorporate the African great apes—the two chimpanzees and gorilla—in the human family, instead of grouping them with the more vaguely related Asian apes. The outmoded way of grouping the large apes (chimpanzees, gorilla, and orang-utan) is in their own family, Pongidae. Approximations of the date of divergence of the ape and human lineages vary.

The Asian apes undoubtedly branched off 8–12 million years ago and the African apes 10–5 million years ago. The stages of progress in which humans departed from ape-like ancestors and took on their current form required no less than five million years.

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Unique Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Gaudara Gudi near to the Ladkhan temple at Aihole is another interesting monument of Karnataka architecture. It is not known as to why it is called by that name (Gauda = Village headman).

A few years ago, the Archaeological Survey of India conducted excavations here and this has shown that Gaudara Gudi is former than the Ladkhan temple. As the precise date of the Ladkhan temple is also not known, the exact date of Gaudara Gudi cannot be fixed. On stylistic grounds, it has been surmised that this temple should have been built in the early part of the seventh century CE.

Gaudara Gudi is a fascinating and irreplaceable structure. It has a basement of four and half feet in height with thick moldings. This temple consists of a garbhagriha, a pradakshinapatha and a mandapa. Sixteen square shaped pillars with abacus hold the roof. The roof is in two tiers one above the other and is made of sloping stones. The lower eave-like molding has some decorations. At the western side of the roof are found low sikhara-like part, which is made of two tiers, the outer edges of which have decorative moldings.

Description of Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

The temple has a flight of steps in the middle of the mandapa. The columned mandapa has on its base a series of pumakumbhas. Behind them are kakshasanas. The pillars are heavy and thick. The beams inside are well carved and have bass-relief sculptures of floral patterns, animals, and human beings. Some of them have chaitya windows.

The garbhagriha is small and it has very beautiful carvings on its doorway. Its outer walls have three koshthas that once perhaps contained three sculptures which are now missing. The side and upper jambs of this doorway were intricately carved with floral design. The lintel has in the middle a flying Garuda in human form. He is flanked on either side by pilasters. What is more important is the sculpture of Lakshmi above the garuda. The ornamented and seated Lakshmi holds lotus flowers in her two hands. On both sides are elephants performing abhisheka to her.

Mandapa of Temple Architecture of Gaudara Gudi, Aihole

Below in the pond are two more elephants. Such Lakshmi motifs are found in Badami also. Founded on this sculpture of Lakshmi, it is supposed that this temple was dedicated to Bhagavati or Lakshmi. So therefore, this may be considered as one of the earliest temples of Lakshmi in Karnataka. From all these characters, this temple occupies an important place at Aihole.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Architectural Highlights of the Lotus Mahal in Hampi, Vijayanagara Empire

Architectural Highlights of the Lotus Mahal in Hampi, Vijayanagara Empire

Lotus Mahal (or Kamala Mahal) is perhaps the most elegant stucco pavilion at Hampi, capital of the famous Vijayanagara Empire of South India. Additionally, it is an excellent example of a well-balanced mishmash of Indian and Islamic (or Sarcenic) architectural style.

Ground Floor of the Lotus Mahal, Hampi

Indian and Islamic (or Sarcenic) Architectural Style of Lotus Mahal, Hampi The structure of the Lotus Mahal is built of brick and mortar with smooth and glossy plaster finishing. Yet, the platform or the basement of the building is built of stone. It has indented outlines with sharp corners, with excellently bedecked moldings at the bottom on all the sides. The structure has two stories.

The ground floor is not closed in any direction. It has cusped arches with fine decorations over which exists a sloping eave, surrounding the building. The ground area has a pavilion or a spectator section, which was used by the royals for pastime and for congregation.

The ground floor is raised on a high and ornamental stone basement with doubly recessed angles, which makes the plan of the building somewhat different, and many art historians have marveled at this architectural feature.

First Floor of the Lotus Mahal, Hampi

There is a staircase to go to the first floor. The first floor is a closed pavilion with many rectangular windows with separate arches at the top. Each of these windows had wooden shutters, which is not very a common feature. Possibly the royal women used this.

The upper floor also has a sloping eave running around the building. The graceful roof contains nine superstructures, which bear a resemblance to closely the sikharas of Hindu temples.

Well-Designed and Toned Architectural Features of the Lotus Mahal, Hampi

The interior of the upper storey consists of an indented hall with four pillars in the centre with niches. The interior walls consist of finely carved floral designs of a high order. While the pillars and the arches exhibit Islamic architectural characters, the base, the roof the superstructures, cornices and stucco ornaments are Hindu in character.

Well-Designed and Toned Architectural Features

This harmonious architectural combination of features has made the Lotus Mahal distinctive at Hampi. Actually, it is an appealing and a long-awaited combination of two different styles of architecture during the Vijayanagara period.

This elegant building was perhaps used entirely by the royalty as a pleasure pavilion with open space at the ground level and some amount of privacy at the first floor. Thus, its name Lotus Mahal or Kamala Mahal is entirely appropriate to this elegant structure.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

The Distinctive Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Ladkhan temple is a significant temple at Aihole because of the method of its construction which marks an important stage in the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.

The temple is called Ladkhan Temple because a gentleman named Ladkhan lived in the temple and consequently the local populace began to call it so. If truth be told, early India scholars like Percy Brown and others considered this temple to be the earliest in Aihole and assigned a date 450 CE. On the contrary, modern researches have revealed that it is not that early and scholars designate it to seventh century CE.

Numerous sculptures of amorous couples in Ladkhan Temple of Aihole It has a distinctive plan and does not give the mark of a temple at all in the first instance. In reality, it looks like a mandapa with rows of pillars. The temple consists of a small garbhagriha attached to the rear wall of a square sabhamandapa and a rectangular mukhamandapa/em>. Hence, there is no pradakshinapatha. The interior of the sabhamandapa is divided into two parallel enclosures with the help of a row of pillars.

The garbhagriha has a Sivalinga and therefore it might have been a Siva temple initially. The rectangular mandapa in the front is smaller in size and provides an entrance. As there is a good image of Surya, some scholars consider it as a temple devoted to Sun. The garbhagriha entryway has Garuda in human form on the doorjamb.

The temple stands on a cellar with moldings and the uppermost molding is very thick, over which rises the wall of the temple. A similar molding is found at the roof level. But what is more interesting is the roof itself. The posterior portion has a square in two tiers with a slight slope in all the four directions. On them are placed stone rafters in reproduction of wooden roof of the earlier buildings. Similar is the roof of the front mandapa, which is rectangular. On the roof of the sabhamandapa is an upper garbhagriha opening to the east with pillars and pilasters without any sikhara. These architectural features have made this temple unique.

Ladkhan Temple - Earliest Temple in Aihole

There are a large number of sculptures on the pillars and the koshthas. Numerous sculptures of amorous couples and the jalandhras are very eye-catching. The roof of the mandapa has a naga holding a lotus. The upper garbhagriha wall has niches in which are found sculptures of Vishnu, Surya, and Siva. Bearing in mind all the architectural features the Ladkhan temple is considered to represent an important stage in the development of early Chalukyan art.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Jumma Masjid at Bijapur has the characteristic of expressing the early characters of the Adil Shahi architecture. In fact, some features of the earlier Bahamani style can also be seen in this monument. Thus it is a good example for the beginning of the Adil Shahi style which culminated in other monuments as it Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza.

The Jumma Masjid mosque was built by Ali Adil Shah I in about 1570 AD. It is the largest and most beautiful mosque in Bijapur with series of arches. In fact, the arches are the most important character of this building. It seems it was never completed because it still lacks two minars, which were intended to flank the two sides of the eastern entrance. Though unfinished in this respect, it presents an elegant look.

The mosque is a huge structure with a rectangle of 450 feet long and 225 feet wide. The walls of this building offer a vast area of simple and plain masonry. However, the monotony of the simplicity is relieved by exterior decorations.

The uniqueness of this mosque is the construction of two rows of arches one above the other. The builder has selected the lower rows for ornamentation. The mosque contains a courtyard which is a square of 155 feet each side. This has a row of seven arches on each side and over them projects a wide and deep cornice on brackets.

Two rows of arches in Jumma Masjid of Bijapur The interior of the sanctuary is equally elegant and impressive. It consists of a large quadrangle, which measures 208 feet in length and 107 feet in width. This is divided into five aisles with the help of arches.

The innermost part is a square nave, each side measuring 76 ft. It has twelve arches, three on each side. These arches intersect above and produce an octagonal cornice that supports the base of the dome. The shape of the dome is pleasing with small isles and small arches all round and a decorated parapet above. Thus, it provides a decorative base for the dome. The mihrab consists of elaborate mural design in relief with bright colors.

Ali Adil Shah I on his return from his victorious and memorable expedition against Ramaraya of Vijayanagara and his treasury overflowing with spoils of war, naturally thought of creating a place of worship (mosque).

The Sultan summoned architects and artisans from Persia and elsewhere and hence the structure has become a building of great elegance, beauty, and majesty.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Krishnadevaraya, the most celebrated king of the Vijayanagar dynasty, invaded Udayagiri kingdom in modern-day Orissa in 1513 A.D., and conquered the Gajapati ruler there and brought an image of Lord Krishna as war trophy. He built a temple to house this image at Hampi and it is famous as Krishna Temple.

Krishnadevaraya even minted gold coins with a portrait of Balakrishna to celebrate this remarkable event. The entire temple is built in the centre of an enclosure, which measures 88 and 60 meters in length and breadth respectively. The entire structure is surrounded by a tall prakara wall, which opens to the east, north, and south.

Krishna Temple is built of granite and consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, an ardhamandapa, a sabhamandapa and a mahamandapa. All these are enclosed within a high prakara wall with a mahadvara, which has a gopura built of brick and mortar. The gopura is in ruins but it contains some good stucco figures associated with Krishna.

Central pillars with relief sculptures at Krishna Temple, Hampi The square garbhagriha is bare now, as the original image of Krishna has been removed. It is made out of greenish black granite showing Krishna as a child seated on a pedestal. The front entrance is well decorated with Vaishnava dvarapalas on either side and Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The sabhamandapa has four central pillars with relief sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, Krishna as Kalingamardana, etc.

The mukhamandapa is an graceful structure with 32 pillars with entrances at north, south, and east. These tall and lean pillars have fine sculptures of Vaishnava deities. There is a garuda mandapa of Dravidian type and a dipastambha (lamp pillar) in its front. At the four corners of this temple once stood small shrines intended for subsidiary Gods. However, they are derelict now. The composite pillars and pillars with horses and yalis add exquisiteness to the temple.

Mahadvara and Huge Gateways of the Krishna Temple, Hampi This temple is famous for the huge gateways at north, south, and east. The eastern gateway or the mahadvara is enormous and graceful and perhaps one of the best specimens of that type in Hampi. Thus, Krishna temple was one of the most popular temples at Hampi built by the most famous king Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Birthplace Of Silicon Valley – The HP Garage

Birthplace Of Silicon Valley - Hewlett Packard

With only $538 as investment in 1938, a time when the long fingers of the Great Depression still stuck the nation by its financial gullet, two aspiring entrepreneurs named Bill Hewlett and David Packard used a one-car garage as a part-time workshop in Palo Alto, California, to birth a company intended to become a world leader in engineering measurement and computer technology. From such unpretentious beginnings, the two Stanford University alumnae and close friends molded an organization that for half a century would outpace its competitors through groundbreaking products, progressive employee policies, and an enduring commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

In 1938, Dave Packard left his job at General Electric in New York and returned to Palo Alto while Hewlett looked for a place to set up shop. Hewitt found a great place in suburbs, with the 12×18 foot garage the main selling point of the property on Addison Avenue. The home had a three-room, ground floor flat for Packard and his wife Lucille, while Hewlett got the shed out back. The rent was $45 per month.

In 1989, during the 50th anniversary of the recognized Hewlett-Packard corporation, the State of California termed the one-car garage first used as a workspace by Bill Hewlett and David Packard in Palo Alto as the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.” This historic landmark also represents the beginning of innovation, chance taking, and common sense policies in a company that would bourgeon as few have before or since.

367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto - Hewlett Packard.jpg

367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California, is the house and one-car garage—dubbed the “birthplace of Silicon Valley”—where William (Bill) Hewlett and David Packard began making their first product in 1939. Mr. Packard died in 1996, Mr. Hewlett in 2001. HP bought the property in 2000, 13 years after the garage was designated California Registered Landmark No. 976.


This garage is the birthplace of the world’s first high-technology region, “Silicon Valley.” The idea for such a region originated with Dr. Frederick Terman, a Stanford University professor who encouraged his students to start up their own electronics companies in the area instead of joining established firms in the East. The first two students to follow his advice were William R. Hewlett and David Packard, who in 1938 began developing their first product, an audio oscillator, in this garage.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 976

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 976 - Birthplace Of Silicon Valley

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with Hewlett-Packard Company, May 19, 1989.

The Hewlett-Packard House and Garage is also National Register Listing 07000307.

Although the garage has become Silicon Valley legend, Hewlett and Packard only stayed at the garage a mere 18 months. The company was officially founded in 1939, with HP outgrowing the garage by 1940. The company moved to a larger property nearby on Page Mill Road. The garage was bestowed the honour of the birthplace of Silicon Valley in 1989, with HP buying the property in 2000.

Posted in Business and Strategy Travels and Journeys

Universe is Built Out of Four Natural Elements

A 15th-century illustration of Christ surrounded by the four natural elements

Empedocles introduced the theory that the universe is built out of four natural elements.

In his poem On Nature (c. 450 BCE), Greek poet Empedocles (c. 490-430 BCE) called upon a set of gods to represent the elements of his own cosmology. The notion that everything in existence is composed of earth, air, fire, and water, or a combination of these four elements, was borrowed from the ancient Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish (c. 1800 BCE), in which the universe emerges from conflicts between gods, each of whom represent some element or force of nature.

Empedocles was seeking what is now often referred to as a “unified field theory,” a theory capable of providing the groundwork for the explanation of any given natural phenomenon. The strategy he inherited from his intellectual predecessors, such as Thales and Anaximenes (who were themselves influenced by the Babylonian myth), was to attempt to identify the most basic ingredient, or ingredients, of the universe.

In the late sixth century BCE, Thales had believed that ingredient to be water. Later, Anaximenes argued that water was too fundamentally different from certain natural phenomena (like fire) for it to be the basic ingredient of the universe. Instead, he proposed that air was the basic ingredient. Empedocles, however, saw no way to explain the vast array of natural phenomena without introducing a total of four basic ingredients: earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were what Empedocles referred to as “the four roots.”

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) added a fifth element, aether. Medieval scholars learned of Empedocles’s notion of the four elements via Aristotle, and Empedocles’s cosmological theory dominated science until the seventeenth century. Although forms of atomism emerged as early as the fifth century BCE, it was not until the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Robert Boyle (1627-91) gained a hold that the four elements were replaced by the atom (or something pretty close) as the foundation of the universe.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom