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T is for...

... Taxidermy



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
---Edgar Allan Poe


The Boozer



Leopard
Few things are more morbid than the stuffed remains of an animal...especially for display purposes. I can understand the specimens used in teaching facilities (I've actually preserved a few reptiles myself while working my way through my Biology degree) or in museum settings. The "animals" in these instances might be the only chance you have to see such a creature up close. But, the collection of stuffed animals for any other reason, is slightly disturbing----

The art of Taxidermy (for it TRULY is an art when done well) has been around a while. There has been evidence of preserved animal remains since early Egyptian times. Though, this wasn't true Taxidermy, it was mummification. But, the theory was headed in the right direction.

Victorian Bird Diorama
It wasn't until the lovely, yet highly morbid, Victorian Age that Taxidermy came into its own. The English Ornithologist, John Hancock, filled his home with an elaborate assortment of stuffed birds---all that he shot himself, of course.

His macabre collection, it's been said, led to a rise in the popularity of the morbid art. Suddenly it was the "in-thing" to have at least one (though more would be better) stuffed avian creature inside the home. Even Queen Victoria herself amassed quite the collection.

Quail
Done well, the preserved and posed animal becomes a snapshot--a frozen "replica" of their living self. These can be as magnificent as they are haunting, at once beautiful and full reminders of our own mortality.

Preserved poorly, however, the animal becomes a strange creature, often mistaken for a badly cast stand-in or a "missing link" gone wrong.

So, if you're going to preserve, preserve well---or, hire someone to preserve who has some idea what the animal you killed looks like...otherwise you might wind up with another Gripsholm Castle Lion.....which, I guess isn't so bad, considering the guy who stuffed it had never seen a lion before.


Gripsholm Castle Lion, circa 1700

Comments

  1. I've never been a fan of taxidermy. Creeps me out to see heads of deer and elk hanging from a wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, whole-heartedly, about the deer heads on the wall----I've never understood the allure of mounted trophies (especially since the guns make it an unfair fight)... :-)

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