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Apocalypse & Armageddon

Storybook apocalypse: Beasts, comets, and other signs of the end times

Storybook apocalypse: Beasts, comets, and other signs of the end times 86

It’s tempting to dismiss the mid-16th-century depictions of Biblical miracles, flaming comets, multi-headed beasts, and apocalyptic chaos that fill the pages of the “Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs” as the superstitious vestiges of the post-Medieval mind. But according to the co-authors of Taschen’s new, 568-page boxed volume called “Book of Miracles,” the Protestant citizens of Augsburg, Germany, were enthusiastic and active collectors of portrayals of portentous signs, as well as written descriptions of ancient and astrological prophecies. Gathering the myriad broadsheets and pamphlets about the imminent apocalypse into so-called Books of Wonders, of which the privately commissioned “Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs” is probably the most important surviving example, was a way for people to connect the dots between ancient prophecies, their contemporary fears, and unexplainable phenomena, especially in the skies.

In part, their passion stemmed from a collector’s fascination with such topics, but Germany’s 16th-century Protestants were also motivated by religious antipathy toward the Catholic Church, whose Pope they derided as the Antichrist. Some took the epithet for fact: For them, since the end was nigh, it behooved one to pay attention to the signs.

Above: The depiction of the Tiber monster, which is said to have washed up on the banks of the Tiber river in Rome after a flood in 1496, has at least two contemporary sources. Top: “Miracles” ends with about 20 pages taken from the Book of Revelation, including chapter 13, verses 1-4.

As Joshua Waterman of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg writes in the Taschen book, which includes a facsimile of the circa-1552 gouaches and watercolors in the Augsburg manuscript, “The late fifteenth century had witnessed a surge of interest in miraculous signs which steadily increased in the decades that followed, ultimately reaching a high point toward the end of the sixteenth century, especially in Protestant territories. This development coincided with the rise of illustrated broadsheets and printed pamphlets as news media that spread reports of prodigies and portents, and with the religious and political upheavals of the Protestant Reformation, which fostered special concern for signs of God’s wrath and the coming end of days.”

“That doesn’t mean all people literally believed in all of the events described in the broadsheets,” adds Till-Holger Borchert, who’s the chief curator at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium, and contributed an essay of his own to the Taschen publication. “But they did collect them.”

One such collector, whose identity remains unknown, commissioned the “Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs.” “I would argue that this particular collection of superstitious images was very much based on scholarly and scientific curiosity,” Borchert says.

The Augsburg document is very much a product of the mid-16th century, which Borchert calls, “a period of great ambivalence. The next step would have been to create studies of things like comets, to look at them in a systematic way,” he says. But the Augsburg document preceded Galileo’s investigation of comets by more than half a century. “This was a step before that, and doesn’t seem to have been the primary interest of the guy who collected this material. But given his rather encyclopedic interest in celestial phenomena, it at least indicates an interest that transcended pure superstition to a more advanced level of perception.”

A miracle from Exodus 16:14-16: “And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.”

The presence of so much printed paper in Augsburg was also not accidental. The city was a printing center, located just a few hundred miles south of Mainz, where Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the mid-15th century. Broadsheets were the Buzzfeeds of their day, featuring woodcut artwork and sensationalist headlines and text designed to capture the imagination of the common man.

The Augsburg book differs from the more common, almost scrapbook-like Books of Wonders in a number of key ways. First, it was commissioned from scratch rather than collected and amassed, although by whom we will probably never know. Second, while many of the images in “The Book of Miracles” were based on broadsheets and artwork by the likes of Hans Holbein the Younger and Albrecht Dürer, each page in the book was executed by hand, in colorful gouache and watercolor.

After much research, which includes matching watermarks on the original book’s handmade paper pages to those prevalent in Augsburg at the time, Borchert believes that the 16th-century artists who executed the original manuscript were Hans Burgkmair the Younger, Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger, and an unknown number of apprentices, a standard practice of the period. To its credit, Taschen has reproduced these plates at virtually full size (9 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches), including the backs of each piece of paper, smudge marks and all, exactly as in the original manuscript. Only two sheets of the original 160-plus images are unaccounted for.

“In the land of the Romans in the year 73 B.C., a golden ball was seen in the sky, which then came down to the Earth and rolled about and flew back up into the air again, in the direction of the rising sun, so that its great size covered up the sun completely. This was followed by the great Roman war.”

Considering that the volume probably changed hands numerous times over the centuries and was re-bound in the 19th century, its relatively intact survival is itself something of a minor miracle. “It’s a binding of the late 19th century,” confirms Borchert. “Where it happened, who did it, and what happened to the leaves that were presumably removed at that point, we don’t have any idea. Remarkably enough, they managed to put the thing back more or less in order, which is more than you can say for most re-bindings. Usually when people take books apart, they’re not able to put them back in order. But that didn’t happen in this case. It’s a pretty spectacular and unique document.”

While the Taschen volume includes Waterman’s and Borchert’s essays, as well as a complete transcription of the German text below each image, the original began with no preface, introduction, or even a table of contents. It went straight into a selection of miracles and signs of God from the Old Testament, beginning with the story of Noah’s Ark, which bobs beneath a pounding rain on a roiling blue sea littered with animals and humans, all swimming futilely for their lives. According to Borchert, the German text is the same as a 1545 version of Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible, which means this page, at least, is no older than that.

The “Book of Miracles” includes 26 examples of comets, including this one: “In the year 1007 A.D., a wondrous comet appeared. It gave off fire and flames in all directions. As it fell to Earth it was seen in Germany and Italy.”

On the pages that follow, we see Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt as Sodom and Gomorrah burn in the background, Moses parting the Red Sea, and a shower of manna from heaven, which Borchert says was probably an edible algae called crustose lichen, which grows on rocks and is sometimes lifted aloft by the wind.After the Bible stories, the book shifts gears to focus on miraculous signs from antiquity to the 16th century. Chief among these are numerous celestial apparitions, which had long been looked upon with trepidation by those tethered to Earth. We see the three suns that rose in the Roman dawn following the murder of Julius Caesar – we now call this phenomenon parhelia, or mock suns, which occurs when images of the sun are refracted in ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. Elsewhere, there are no less than 26 examples of comets, which blaze across the pages of the book in brilliant yellows and gold. On other pages, volcanoes spew lava, fire rains down on crippled cities, and floods inundate once pastoral landscapes. This, we can’t help but think, is what the wrath of God must look like.

And then there are the beasts: Especially captivating is the Tiber monster, an anti-Catholic symbol favored by Martin Luther himself, consisting of the torso of a woman, the head of an ass, a cloven hoof in the place of its right foot, a claw on its left, and so on. Helpfully, the authors provide two examples of sources for the creature (see images above), engaging in a kind of artistic forensics using data that’s almost 500 years old.

“In the year 1009 A.D., the sun went dark and the moon was seen all blood-red and a great earthquake struck and there fell from the sky with a loud and crashing noise a huge burning torch like a column or a tower. This was followed by the death of many people and famine throughout Germany and Italy. More people died than remained alive.”

Yet despite the passage of time and the particular nature of the Catholic-Protestant polarization that drew the good citizens of Augsburg to these images, the historic pages reproduced in “Book of Miracles” appear fresh, almost contemporary. “The pictorial language,” says Borchert, “is surprisingly modern in its feel. The colors are sophisticated and strong, depicting catastrophes in an archetypal way that speak to us even after 500 years. It’s very understandable and clear.”

Indeed, one can easily imagine more recent catastrophes getting the “Book of Miracles” treatment, from people clinging to their rooftops in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to scenes of almost Biblical devastation following the tsunami generated by the Tohoku earthquake in 2011. In the end, from the vantage point of 2014, that may be the real message of “Book of Miracles,” that the veneer of civilization we place our faith in daily is actually rather fragile and thin. “At this point,” concurs Borchert, “all it would take is a global disruption of electricity for about a month and we’d all be back in caves.”

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Apocalypse & Armageddon

China has officially proposed a global “mark” with a barcode for the coronavirus!

China has officially proposed a global "mark" with a barcode for the coronavirus! 99

Are we seeing a global “mark” being unveiled in front of our eyes on the occasion of the coronavirus, the pandemic that threatens to change lives globally? One after another, the signs of the imposition of a global system of control of humanity are appearing.

China has officially proposed a global "mark" with a barcode for the coronavirus! 100

This time, not by “accident”, but by the Chinese President Xi Jinping himself (the country where the pandemic started) who clearly proposed the imposition of QR codes (of the well-known barcode) on the entire population so that, according to him to “improve trade and travel” affected by the coronavirus.

A “mark” to travel or make trade deals

Speaking during the G20 summit, the Chinese president said:

“As we try to control the virus, we need to restore the security and smooth running of global industry and the supply chain,” the Chinese president told a G20 teleconference on Saturday, referring to the need to “reduce tariffs and barriers.” “trade” and “liberalization” of trade in critical medical products to go on to say that to do so must create mechanisms that will simplify the flow of products and services at a time when it is being tested for coronavirus.

This can come in the form of QR codes that will contain information about each person’s health status, Xi said.

“China has proposed a global mechanism for a universally accepted health certification process based on nucleic acid testing and QR codes that will be universally accepted. We hope that more and more countries will accept this mechanism. “

In fact, supporters of the “new era” and the new “big restart” are no longer in hiding, but say so openly as the Chinese president, one of the main proponents of globalization:

A commonly agreed health certificate that will be valid in all countries of the world and that will be in the form of a barcode for everyone to carry it on, without which they will not be able to make trade agreements or, of course, travel.

And of course, because nothing is accidental, the first mention of a global marking system for our health always fell elsewhere, but at the World Economic Forum (WEF) where the so-called ‘CovidPass’ was proposed to restore tourism and travel which affected by the pandemic.

The book “Covid-19: The Great Reset” also sprang from the World Economic Forum. Everything is interconnected but the worst thing is that no one is hiding “anymore but they say it clearly:

Imposition of a global control system for our good and our health.

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Apocalypse & Armageddon

Axis of disasters in November 2020: The Unknown is approaching at the end of November

Axis of disasters in November 2020: The Unknown is approaching at the end of November 101

2020 has been a difficult year for many people. We have already managed to wait out several negative periods, but in November the last one will begin – the axis of disasters.

The time has come to shed some light on what awaits us in late autumn and early winter.

What is the axis of disasters

There are two very important stars in the sky, symbolizing the beginning and end of any business and process – Aldebaran and Antares, respectively. They are located almost directly opposite each other and the imaginary line between them symbolizes this very axis of catastrophes. When some planets fall on this axis, various problems, disasters, man-made disasters begin to occur in the world.

The axis of catastrophes is often associated, for example, with the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Tianshan earthquake, the earthquake in China in 1556, and the September 11 terrorist attack in the United States. The astrologer notes that this axis is associated precisely with global problems that have arisen due to human activities, our imprudence. Sometimes the axes of catastrophes are associated with diseases, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Axis of disasters in November 2020

In 2020, the last period in which the planets will begin to actively interact with the axis of catastrophes will begin on November 30 and end on December 4. It will be a very dangerous time.

No one can predict exactly what problems, disasters and aggravation of troubles can await us. It is logical to assume that this could be new political unrest, clashes of interests of various segments of the population.

Try to visit mass events and public places as little as possible. No one is canceling the increased caution regime for coronavirus either. Most likely, these days the number of cases may increase. Take care of yourself, your loved ones and do not risk your health. Make informed decisions and don’t blindly follow other people. Look at everything from your own experience and remain calm: if increased anxiety interferes with making informed decisions, it is better to limit the flow of news.

An extended Astrological view

November 20 stands out, when there will be a new moon, and Jupiter will enter Capricorn and launch some kind of global transformation cycle that will last right up to April 5. The astrologer does not specify what kind of transformation it will be, but in the end all this will lead to the cancellation of the struggle against COVID. That is, either the virus will die by April 5, or the main fighters against it will depart. 

But before this glorious moment, there will be a lunar eclipse on November 30, after which there will be a kind of eclipse corridor until December 14, which in itself is not healthy from the point of view of astrology. Another problem is that at this moment the star Antares will enter the sign of Scorpio, which is practically a guarantee of some major war. 

The astrologer mentioned China especially, because there will be some kind of drama – either the yuan will collapse, or everything will collapse. It will be somehow unexpected for everyone. 

Also, December 14th will go down in world history with some kind of global disclosure – people will receive an answer to a question that has been asked for decades. But what kind of question the astrologer again does not specify and only makes the assumption that either the government will merge something about the aliens, or the aliens will land themselves. It is also possible with the disclosure of some kind of world conspiracy, about which everyone seems to guess, then mostly in the kitchen and unofficially. And then, as it were, everything secret will become apparent. 

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Apocalypse & Armageddon

Secrets of symbolism of Dürer’s apocalyptic engraving “Four Horsemen”: What the genius wanted to tell

Secrets of symbolism of Dürer's apocalyptic engraving "Four Horsemen": What the genius wanted to tell 102
Illustration source / photo: Depositphotos

Albrecht Dürer is a painter and printmaker who is generally considered the greatest German Renaissance painter. His work is rich in religious works, numerous portraits and self-portraits, and, of course, engravings on copper and wood. An interesting engraving “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, in which among the depicted chaos and horror of the end of the world, there is the author’s glimmer of hope.

Dürer was a German Renaissance master, the man declared by the Venetian Renaissance painters the best painter of the kingdom in 1506.

He was born the second son of the Hungarian jeweler Albrecht Dürer the Elder, who settled in Nuremberg in 1455, and Barbara Holper. Dürer began his training as a draftsman in his father’s jewelry workshop. His precocious abilities and exceptional talent are proved by the magnificent self-portrait painted at the age of 13, as well as “Madonna Crowned by Two Angels” (made at the age of 14). 

In 1486, Dürer’s father organized the practice of his son with the woodcut painter Michael Wolgemuth, whose portrait Dürer would paint in 1516. In 1490, Dürer completed his earliest known painting, a portrait of his father, which marks the familiar characteristic style of the mature master.

Self-portrait and Madonna Durer
Self-portrait and Madonna – Albrecht Dürer

Dürer’s talent, ambition, sharp and broad intellect won him the attention and friendship of the most prominent figures of German society. He became the official court painter of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and his successor Charles V, for whom Dürer developed a number of artistic projects. In particular, for the Nuremberg town hall, the artist painted two panels depicting the four apostles with texts by Martin Luther that pay tribute to Lutheranism.

As an admirer of his compatriot Martin Schongauer, Durer revolutionized engraving, elevating it to the level of an independent art form. He expanded her tonal and dramatic range and gave the images a new conceptual basis. By the age of 30, Dürer had completed three of his most famous series of engravings on religious themes: Apocalypse, Great Passions, and The Life of the Virgin.

Dürer engravings
Dürer engravings

The impressive results in engraving led to the fact that Maximilian himself appointed Dürer a life pension – 100 guilders a year – paid from the sums annually contributed by Nuremberg to the imperial treasury.

The art of engraving reveals the talented soul of Durer, rich in images and secret accumulated treasures of the heart. Durer is the most profound and greatest poet-artist that art history could only know.

“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

There is a fantastic series of woodcuts in 1498 in Dürer’s work. Dürer’s Apocalypse was published as a book with 15 full-page illustrations, each directed to a page of text. The third print from the Apocalypse, entitled The Four Horsemen, is a dramatically revised version of a passage from the book of Revelation (6: 1–8). a part of which is the iconic work – “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. 

The approaching end of the 15th century gave rise to rumors about the approaching end of the world. Therefore, all natural and climatic phenomena in the form of comets, eclipses, floods and epidemics were certainly associated in the minds of the people with the end of the world. The scenes of the Apocalypse in The Four Horsemen only reinforced the prevailing eschatological mood.

Albrecht Durer Apocalypse
Albrecht Dürer – Apocalypse

Symbolism

A powerful engraving by Albrecht Durer from the late 15th century depicts the four horsemen of the apocalypse (death, famine, war and plague). The concept of the apocalypse runs through the writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

In this scene, the main message is traced – the punishment of God for the sins of mankind. Many, on the eve of the 15th century, lived under the impression that this sentence had come into force. That is why, taking advantage of the mood in society, Dürer in the period from 1496 to 1498 created 15 “apocalyptic” engravings, which were very popular. The engraving shows:

1. The first – the archer is the winner. His victory is symbolized by the white color of the horse. However, conquest brings not peace, but the tyranny of humanity. The dire consequences of this sin have prevailed in every generation since the Garden of Eden and can be seen in all walks of life (from government to family).

2. A rider holding a sword over his head symbolizes War. Scripture tells us that the second horse is bright red. This is the color of bloodshed. The rider wields a mighty sword. The tyranny seen in the first horseman leads to a large-scale lust for domination that brings the evil of war. Interestingly, Dürer represents the first two horsemen in Turkish hats, since the Turks were dangerous enemy invaders at the time.

3. Their third companion, Hunger, holds the scales. Dürer places the third rider and his black horse in the center of the engraving. He waves a scale to measure the volume of food as if it were a weapon. The engraving also shows the economic imbalance caused by human greed.

4. The fourth horseman is Death. The fourth rider is exhausted. He rakes his prey with a pitchfork. The horse here has a pale, terrible color. “His rider was called Death.” (v.8)

5. The monster crawling after them personifies hell, where all sinners will suffer after death.

In the Bible, these horsemen appear in turn. Therefore, the artists who illustrated it before always depicted them separately. Dürer first combined them in one composition

Not a very pleasant plot. But Durer gives people hope! The whole sky shines with the Gospel! There is a sign of the presence of God on the engraving. The rays from His halo can be seen in the upper left corner. 

The Angel of the Lord hovers over the entire stage. The left hand practically touches the sword – and this is a symbol of the fact that although the destruction is great and sweeping, God sees everything. The angel’s hand blesses. The evil of sin will continue to the end of the ages, but God will not leave His children.

Looking at the work “The Four Horsemen” it is not difficult to imagine the furor and horror that the engraving caused among Durer’s contemporaries. In 1500, everyone lived in anticipation of the end of the world. The “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” amaze even now the imagination. 

It seems that the horsemen are about to descend from the engraving into the real world and begin to wreak havoc, destruction and death. But the main thing is a symbol of Dürer’s hope.

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