Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

ShukerNature - http://www.karlshuker.blogspot.com

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my ShukerNature blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Eclectarium blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Starsteeds blog's poetry and other lyrical writings (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A GIANT MYSTERY!


As I am presently in the process of completing two major books, I'm sure that you'll understand why my blogging has been somewhat infrequent lately. A few days ago, however, while browsing in my local bric-a-brac market, I made a discovery intriguing enough for me to break off from my books and - after spending quite some time searching vainly for information regarding it - post it here, just in case there is someone out there who can offer any clues concerning this enigma.

The discovery in question was the very old, sepia-tinted postcard reproduced above. The reverse bears the following simple, if somewhat clumsily-worded, caption: "View on the Helmets of the Giants", which is also given in French and in German. No other detail, not even the location of these remarkable-looking exhibits, is present. The postcard had not been used, so there is no writing or stamp to give any clue as to its age or origin either.

So what, precisely, are these colossal-looking, and extremely ornate, helmets, and where were they being exhibited? Any suggestions or information would be very greatly welcomed.

Answers on a postcard - but not this one!


UPDATE: MARCH 2011 - GETTING AHEAD WITH THE GIANT HELMETS!

I've finally solved the mystery of these giant helmets, thanks to some investigations on my behalf by Fortean Times's art director, Etienne Gilfillan - thanks, Etienne! I have documented Etienne's discoveries in my latest Alien Zoo column, in FT #274:

"Etienne conducted some enquiries of his own, which led him to contact Micheline Ruyssinck, a curator at Belgium’s Royal Museum of Art and History. Intrigued by the postcard’s picture, she in turn sent details to Laurent Duibisson, curator of the Museum of the Giants in the city of Ath (housing various huge figures and other exhibits that have been created for folklore-inspired festival processions in Belgium). And sure enough, he knew all about them. It turns out that the postcard depicts the backs of two extremely large, helmeted, manufactured heads that represent a pair of traditional Antwerp giants – Druon Antigonus and Pallas Athena (Laurent sent photographs of other old postcards depicting them from the front and wearing the helmets shown on my postcard).

Laurent's postcards depicting the giants' heads as seen from the front and wearing the helmets in my postcard (Laurent Duibisson)


"These very elaborate heads featured each year in Antwerp’s annual Ommegang (purification) festival’s procession until 1872, when they were replaced by some new heads and were then stored in the Steen, a castle now housing Belgium’s Navy Museum. They were later transferred to Antwerp’s Museum of Ethnology, where they were placed on display. Following some restoration work to recreate their former glory, in 2001 Laurent saw the heads there himself, and in 2002 his Museum of the Giants hosted an exhibition devoted to them. These spectacular heads are currently in the collections of Antwerp’s new Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), due to open in May 2011."

Procession of giants at Ath, Belgium (EDEN/Flickr)