Standard Banner (Sashimono), Metropolitan Museum of Art: Arms and Armor
Bequest of George C. Stone, 1935
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Medium: Silk, leather, pigment
British Handkerchief Cutter, 19th Century
19th century Wilkinson Handkerchief cutter sword with shagreen grip and an un-associated scabbard, 100 cm in length.
Used in The Great Handkerchief Wars. Also used for sword feats to demonstrate cutting skill and blade sharpness. Sword feats were often incorporated into a larger “Assault of Arms” which would also feature fencing with various swords, singlesticks, and bayonets.
Holodomor – Ukraine has always been invaluable to Russia as a ready source of gain. For centuries, the fertile black earth of the Eastern European plains was cultivated by peasant farmers who led a traditional way of life attached to their patches of land. When Stalin came to power in 1924, he instigated a reign of terror in the Ukraine that ranks among the foremost of his crimes against humanity. Over the next few years, he imposed a ruthless policy of collectivization. The kulaks’ land was sized for state farms and they were forced to work their own land as state employees. Many rebelled and were shot. In 1928, Stalin piled on the pressure by increasing the kulaks’ taxes at the ame time as requisitioning ever-larger quotas of grain.
By 1932 the demand of the state had become insatiab;e. At the end of that year the kulaks were forced to surrender their seed grain, without which they could not plant the following years harvest. From February to August 1933 they were ordered to hand over all foodstuffs; at the same time travel restrictions were imposed and the secret police brutally sniffed out any hoarders. The effect was to create a famine of such horrendous proportions that, having devoured first their livestock then cats and dogs and rodents, then starving finally resorted to infanticide and cannibalism.
The quote demands were lifted in 1933, by which time whole villages lay deserted. Survivors were transported to the Siberian gulags (forced labour camps) and Russian settlers were sent into the Ukraine to replace the dead. For years, successive governments of the USSR denied the famine had ever happened. To this day, although Russia accepts that incompetent agricultural policies contributed to mass starvation, it still denies there was any deliberate policy of genocide – officially, Holodomor never happened.
“If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true. But when I think of her, of Elisa, the only thing that comes to mind is a poem, whispered by someone in love hundreds of years ago. ‘Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart. For you are everywhere.’”
Swedish Standard bearer, Great Northern War, Karl XII.