Thursday, January 06, 2011

Who be she?

Every museum has, I expect, what we at least call “orphaned” artifacts in its collection. In the case of a portrait like this, now hanging on the wall of the Lucas County Historical Society office, we do not know who the subject is nor can we trace her travels back far enough to determine point of origin.

So does anyone out there know who this lovely young woman is? She is in fine condition if you overlook the fact her wood-grained plaster frame is slightly chipped. Her domed glass is intact, which is a bonus.

The portrait came to us from a donor who had acquired two, both of unidentified people, from a source who didn’t know who they were either. We were able to identify the subjects of the other portrait as the Rev. Adam J. and Melvina (Schroder) Fight, who are buried in the Derby Cemetery.

So there is a possibility this young woman is somehow related. Circumstances suggest she might also be related to one of Lucas County’s Arnold families that, in turn, were related to the Fights.

Give us a hand here if you can. She’s in no way endangered. Once in the collection she’ll stay there (and she looks nice on the office wall, identified or not). But we’d sure like to know who she is.


In the category of doing things I never expected to be doing but that are kind of fun, I spent part of yesterday banging my head on a table while trying to correctly identify by name elements of native constuming acquired in Egypt by a World War II U.S. Army cartographer with Chariton ties during the 1940s.

We’ve even got a snapshot of the guy, in native dress, aboard a horse somewhere in the desert.

I managed to figure out that the elaborately embroidered silk skullcaps are called “taqiyahs,” the squares of cloth (or scarves) worn over them by men, “keffiyehs,” and the bands that hold the keffiyehs in place, “agals.”

That covers the head. The costuming, however, continues via robes to the feet (two pair of heavy, hand-knitted, elaborately-patterned wool socks that make me itch even to look at, handwoven shoes and hand-made sandals) --- so I’d better get busy.

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