20 October 2012

Lunatic eclecticism

From illustrated catalogues such as the Museum Celeberrimum by de Sephibus (1678) and the Museum Kircherianum by Bonanni (1709) we learn that in the collection put together by Kirchner in the Collegio Romano there were ancient statues, pagan cult objects, amulets, Chinese idols, votive tables, two tables showing the fifty incarnations of Brahma, Roman tomb inscriptions, lanterns, rings, seals, buckles, armillaries, weights, bells, stones and fossils with strange images produced by nature engraved on their surface, exocity objects ex variis orbis plagis collectum, containing the belts of Brazilian natives adorned with the teeth of devoured victims, exotic birds and other stuffed animals, a book from Malabar made of plam leaves, Turkish artefacts, Chinese scales, barbarian weapons, Indian fruits, the foot of an Egyptian mummy, foetuses from forty days to seven months, skeletons of eagles, hoopoes, magpies, thrushes, Brazilian monkeys, cats and mice, moles, porcupines, frogs, chameleons, sharks, as well as marine plants, a seal's tooth, a crocodile, an armadillo, a tarantula, a hippo's head, a rhinoceros horn, a monstrous dog in a vase preserved in balsamic solution, projects on perpetual motion, automatons and other devices along the lines of machines made by Archimedes and Heron of Alexandria, cochleas, an octagonal catoptric device that multiplied a little model elephant so that “it restores the image of a herd of elephants that seemed to have been collected from all of Asia and Africa”, hydraulic machines, telescopes and microscopes with microscopic observations of insects, globes, armillary spheres, astrolabes, planispheres, solar, hydraulic, mechanical and magnetic clocks, lenses, hourglasses, instruments for measuring temperature and humidity, various paintings and images of mountainous precipices, winding channels in valleys, wooded labyrinths, foaming waves, whirlpools, hills, architectural perspectives, ruins, ancient monuments, battles, massacres, duels, triumphs, palaces, biblical mysteries, and effigies of gods.
-- from The Infinity of Lists by Umberto Eco

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