I was looking through a book of art history when I came across this photo of a reliquary of St. Vitale, made around 1170. A reliquary is a container for holding sacred relics, such as the bones or body parts of saints. This reliquary, made out of bronze with encrusted enamel, held pieces of what were supposed to be St. Vitale's skull. The skull pieces "could be placed in (and removed from) the container through a concealed opening at the rear of the sculpted head." To be honest, I'm not sure which St. Vitale this is supposed to represent, because there are a couple of them.
But what really struck me, as soon as I saw the photo, was how much the reliquary, with its creepy staring eyes, resembled James Holmes, the Aurora shooter. Compare for yourself!
Denison's make-up guide (1926) was a catalogue of the various products sold by Denison, but it also offered detailed instructions on how to use their products. Below is their guide for "blacking up" using their Superfine Minstrel Black make-up paint. There were similar how-to's for other ethnic types such as the 'Ghetto Jew,' the Japanese, Irishman, Chinaman, etc. See more images from the catalogue at UVA's online exhibit, Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture.
Ad campaign voted most likely to result in scatological jokes.
Also: see the "person" in the Persian Siamese cat "costume" in the top panel? Note how the shape of the cat head does not conform to the shapes of the human heads on display. The unnatural angle of the neck. And the cat is looking with its living "costume" eyes!
Plainly, this is a encoded warning against aliens among us!
Masks of dictators (as well as various other celebrities) could be purchased from the Johnson Smith Catalog back in the 30s and 40s. (Apologies to Paul for encroaching on his Johnson Smith series.) But what I found interesting was not only that they were sold, but that there are also images taken by photographer William Vanderson showing kids wearing them.
My eyes--oh God, my eyes! What is this creation supposed to signify? Could it possibly represent a glimpse of our post-apocalyptic future, when we must wear such outfits to protect us from the despoiled environment, while we masquerade among our new rulers, mutant equine kangaroos from outer space?