domingo, 28 de dezembro de 2008

Gifted Cows

There are so many reasons to be thanking cows, clearly the milk is very good for you and they provide meat for those that are carnivorous, if you are enterprising and have space for cows, they can provide the methane for use as a fuel, they could pull your plough and cart and there product of milk can paint your house.
MILK PAINT is a very old invention and along with eggs has been a standard for fixing colours or as glue,
CASEIN. Chemistry: Casein Glue
Purpose: In this activity, you will separate a mixture and synthesize glue.
Background: Homogenized cow’s milk contains 4.4% fat, 3.8% protein, and 4.9% sugar. It has been well-mixed to prevent it from separating. At the normal pH of milk (about 6.3 – 6.6), the protein, called casein, remains evenly dispersed in the solution. When an acid is added to the mixture, the pH drops and the casein can no longer stay dissolved; it coagulates into an insoluble mass. This coagulation of casein occurs at a pH of about 4.6.
(casein) (lactose)
We will use skim milk in this activity, since it is easier to work with.
1. Pour about 100 mL of skim milk into a 400 mL beaker. Add 15 mL of white vinegar (5% acetic acid).
2. Place the mixture on a hot plate and heat, stirring gently with a glass stirring rod. Observe the mixture carefully and stop when you see turbidity (solid curds floating in the beaker). Do not overheat the mixture; the protein will denature and your glue won’t work.
3. Filter the mixture, using a folded piece of paper towel, into an Erlenmeyer flask. The curds should remain in the paper towel, while the filtrate (i.e., the liquid) will filter through into the flask. Discard the liquid filtrate; this contains the whey.
4. Scrape the curds from the paper towel into a small plastic cup.
5. Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda (NaHCO3) to the cup and stir with a wooden splint. Slowly add drops of water, stirring periodically, until the consistency of white glue is obtained.
6. Use your glue to make a collage. Put your name on your collage and set it aside to dry overnight.
Milk paint was made from old curdled milk or cottage cheese, lime and earth pigment for colour.
1870 Milk Paint Formula
* 1 Quart skim milk (room temperature)
* 1 Once of hydrated lime by weight (Available at building centres. Do not use quick lime, as it will react with the water and heat up. Hydrated lime has been soaked in water then dried.)
* 1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler.
Stir in enough skim milk to hydrated lime to make a cream. Add balance of skim milk. Now add sufficient amount of powder pigment to desired colour and consistency (Pigment powder must be lime proof ). Stir in well for a few minutes before using. For best results continue to stir throughout use.
Apply milk paint with a cheap natural bristle brush. Allow project to dry sufficiently before applying next coat.
Extra paint may be kept for several days in the refrigerator, until the milk sours.
Double or triple the recipe for paint. Allow to dry thoroughly 3-4 hours before use. For extra protection, give paint a coat of oil finish or sealer. Colour may change - test in inconspicuous area

sexta-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2008

Santa-Claus for thought

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply "Santa", is the legendary and mythical figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to good children on Christmas Eve, December 24 or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day). The legend may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of Saint Nicholas.

In modern times, Santa Claus is depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. In the United Kingdom and Europe, his depiction is often identical to the American Santa, but he is commonly called Father Christmas.

One legend associated with Santa says that he lives in the far north, in a land of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, while Father Christmas is said to reside in Lapland. Other details include: that he is married and lives with Mrs. Claus; that he makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behaviour ("naughty" or "nice"); that he delivers presents, including toys, candy, and other presents to all of the good boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal or sticks to the naughty children, in one night; and that he accomplishes this feat with the aid of magical elves who make the toys, and eight or nine flying reindeer who pull his sleigh.

There has long been opposition to teaching children to believe in Santa Claus. Some Christians say the Santa tradition detracts from the religious origins and purpose of Christmas. Other critics feel that Santa Claus is an elaborate lie, and that it is unethical for parents to teach their children to believe in his existence.

The symbolic personification of Christmas as a merry old figure begins in the early 17th century, in the context of resistance to Puritan criticism of observation of the Christmas feast. He is "old" because of the antiquity of the feast itself, which its defenders saw as a good old Christian custom that should be kept. Allegory was popular at the time, and so "old Christmas" was given a voice to protest his exclusion, along with the form of a rambunctious, jolly old man.

The earliest recorded personification of Christmas appears to be Ben Jonson's creation in Christmas his Masque dating from December 1616, in which Christmas appears "attir'd in round Hose, long Stockings, a close Doublet, a high crownd Hat with a Broach, a long thin beard, a Truncheon, little Ruffes, white shoes, his Scarffes, and Garters tyed crosse", and announces "Why Gentlemen, doe you know what you doe? ha! would you ha'kept me out? Christmas, old Christmas?" Later, in a masque by Thomas Nabbes, The Springs Glorie produced in 1638, "Christmas" appears as "an old reverend gentleman in furred gown and cap".The character continued to appear over the next 250 years, appearing as Sir Christmas, Lord Christmas, or Father Christmas, the latter becoming the most common. A book dating from the time of the Commonwealth, The Vindication of CHRISTMAS or, His Twelve Yeares' Observations upon the Times involved "Old Christmas" advocating a merry, alcoholic Christmas and casting aspersions on the charitable motives of the ruling Puritans.

The traditional Father Christmas was neither a gift bringer, nor associated with children. However, since the Victorian era, when Santa Claus arrived from America, he has been merged with the character called "Sir Christmas", "Lord Christmas" or "Old Father Christmas" to create Father Christmas, the British Santa which survives today. Nowadays, most Britons use the expressions Father Christmas and Santa Claus as synonyms.

Traditionally he comes down the chimney to either put presents under the trees or in children’s' rooms in their stockings. Some families leave a glass of mulled wine, biscuits, a chocolate and a carrot for Rudolph near the stocking as a present for him. In some homes parents have their children write a Christmas list (of wished-for presents) and send it up the chimney

A medieval fresco depicting St Nicholas from the Boyana Church, near Sofia, Bulgaria. Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is still portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari, wanting to enter the profitable pilgrimage industry of the times, mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Christian Saint and procure the remains. The reliquary of St. Nicholas was desecrated by Italian sailors and the spoils, including his relics, taken to Bari where they are kept to this day.

A basilica was constructed the same year to store the loot and the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout, thus justifying the economic cost of the expedition.

Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their Christianization. Since many of these elements are unrelated to Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus.

Odin was sometimes recorded, at the native Germanic holiday of Yule, as leading a great hunting party through the sky. Two books from Iceland, the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus's reindeer. Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions; these include Síðgrani, Síðskeggr, Langbarðr, (all meaning "long beard") and Jólnir ("Yule figure”)

The Yule log and the now use of a tree and lights (signifying the burning) are the direct descendent of pagan customs, including the singing of carols, which goes back to the wailing (wassailing ,which is like the words for a toast to good health) in front of trees to promote a good harvest, often to apple trees in England and more particular in the cider areas!! The twelth night is another pagan ceremony that predates the Christian one, taken as the 6th of January but some feel that it is the 17th January if the older calendar is used as a guide.

According to Phyllis Siefker, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy. This practice survived in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some homes I have ripped practically this entire article from Wikipedia but thought it is at least altogether for some interest at Xmas.
Bolo rei - the king's cake, is eaten to celebrate the twelth night

segunda-feira, 15 de dezembro de 2008

Obesity:relatively new phenomenon!

Obesity 'controlled by the brain'
This article is largely taken from the BBC´s internet site but is very much to my heart, I am worried by the constant move to accept over weight as a normal part of life, it is for me a sign of waste and over indulgence by a nation and not so much an individual characteristic, it is as much like the throwing down of litter in the street and lack of respect for others, the trend to leave the responsibilty for everything to others, pay others to worry for you!!
Seven new gene variants discovered by scientists suggest strongly that obesity is largely a mind problem.
The findings suggest the brain plays the dominant role in controlling appetite, and that obesity cannot easily be blamed on metabolic flaws.
Two international studies, published in Nature Genetics, examined samples from thousands of people for the tiniest genetic changes.
Many of the seven key variants seem to be active in the brain.
This suggests that the brain's impact on appetite and eating behaviour may be more important that any genetic variation which alters the body's ability to lay down or burn up fat.
All seven variants were picked up by a study led by Icelandic company deCODE Genetics, while six of the seven were also identified in a second, independent study by an international team dubbed the Giant consortium.
In both cases the researchers scrutinised DNA samples from thousands of people to assess the impact of tiny changes.
Each of the variants identified had a small impact on obesity, but a person carrying all of them was typically around 1.5kg - 2kg heavier than average.
It is estimated that as much as 70% of the variation in body mass index - a measure of obesity based on height and weight - is down to genetics, rather than environmental factors.
Researcher Dr Kari Stefansson, of deCODE Genetics said: "This suggests that as we work to develop better means of combating obesity, we need to focus on the regulation of appetite at least as much as on the metabolic factors of how the body uses and stores energy."
Major step forward
Dr Alan Guttmacher, of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, said the research was a major step forward in understanding how the human body regulates weight.
However, Professor Peter Weissberg, of the at the British Heart Foundation, expressed caution.
He said: "This research adds to the growing body of evidence that some people are more at risk of becoming obese because of their genes.
"It suggests that some people may be less able than others to resist the temptation to overeat because of their genetic background and it might start to explain why some people have no problem keeping their weight down whilst others struggle.
"However, this cannot be the explanation for the current epidemic of obesity since these genes have been present for centuries and the obesity epidemic is a relatively new phenomenon."
Almost one in four people in the UK is now classified as obese, and expert predict the proportion will continue to rise sharply.

The proportion of obese people had nearly doubled from 11% in 1999 to 19% in 2007.
In 1999, 43% of the population had a BMI that put them in the overweight or obese range, of whom 81% correctly identified themselves as overweight.
But in 2007, 53% of the population had a BMI in the overweight or obese range, but only 75% of these correctly classed themselves as overweight.

The researchers from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London said one reason for the findings could be that as a greater proportion of the population becomes overweight, people's perception of what is "normal" changes.
Study leader, Professor Jane Wardle, said: "The other explanation we put forward was that the media often illustrate articles about overweight with a person with a very high BMI giving the impression that is the size that's important.
"Half of those with a BMI in the 25 to 30 range did not recognise they were overweight and that's the range we'd like people to start taking action so their weight doesn't get any higher," she said.
One upside to the findings was that women who are a healthy weight are now less likely to believe they are overweight, which had been a concern in the past, she added.
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP and medical director of Weight Concern said: "Despite a much greater awareness among the public about the problems of obesity it seems fewer are recognising the problem in themselves.

Almost one in four five-year olds and one in three 11-year olds is overweight or obese, according to the national child measurement programme.

Clearly i is essential for the health of the adult to create better awareness of health with children, the serious rise in obesity in chidren represents a cost to the British nation and it is showing itself in other parts of the world.
In Brazil, with the gradual increase in affluence among the now increasing middle class, there is a very noticeable increase in obesity in children and those around the 40 to 60 age bracket, up till now there had been a strong sense of young, teenager to 30 year old, being very keen on the model, slim, image and working hard to keep an athletic form was the norm, however this seems to be slipping away, most teenage boys would rather use proprietary products and drugs to keep their form, this type of body building without the excersise or manual work, is also creating a strange impression for the younger generation. The more prosperous go for the quick and often repeated process of plastic surgery, television stars are often quoted as the normal reason for opting to see the surgeon and the price for this type of surgery as fallen to within the range of the lower middle class, so it is seen as an option for all, in preference to keeping to a regime and eating with care, this can be a problem in Brazil because of their national diet is heavily based on sugar, salt and fat products.

domingo, 14 de dezembro de 2008

The Sounds of Bells

I have got used to the constant sound of bells clanking, not so much melodically resounding with a pure note but the off beat and off pitch of the church bells, here in Ouro Preto, it reminds me of parts of Greece, some what Islamic in tone. The hammer never seems to make sweet contact with the bell and I now think that this is deliberate, I imagine that folks pay more attention to discord than they do to melody, so if you want to attract attention it is probably this method that is best. The bells are rung with what appears to be a lack of rythem or timing, or both and then a lack of expertise in calculaing the swing of the bell, I do not know and am going to try and discover the reasons. In the meantime I have let my thoughts draw me back to the memories of London and my time spent near Whitechapel and Lambeth, there in Whitechapel is the oldest British bell foundery and I have just lifted there blurred for you to read as well as another more modern foundery(Paccard founded in 1796).

An entry in the Guinness Book of Records lists the Whitechapel Bell Foundry as Britain's oldest manufacturing company, having been established in 1570 (during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I) and being in continuous business since that date. In 1970, therefore, the Foundry celebrated its quarter centenary.
It had for some time been thought that the company may in fact have a longer history, and shortly after this celebration of 400 years, a link was indeed established through the research of bell historian George Elphick back to one Master Founder Robert Chamberlain, thus tracing an unbroken line of founders in Aldgate and Whitechapel back to the year 1420 (in the reign of Henry V, and 72 years before Columbus sailed for America). Biographies of some of our past founders can be found elsewhere on this site, as can a guide on How to Identify Old Tower Bells.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry's business has always been, and still concentrates solely on, the manufacture of bells and their associated fittings. The manufacture of large bells for change ringing peals in church towers, single tolling bells, carrillon bells, and their complete range of accesories such as framework, wheels, clappers and their assembly in Church towers accounts for approximately four-fifths of the company output. The other fifth of the business lies in the manufacture of handbells for tune and change ringing, and other small bells of many shapes and sizes.

Whitechapel's famous bells include the original Liberty Bell (1752), the Great Bell of Montreal and, probably best known of all, Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster. Cast in 1858, this is the largest bell ever cast at Whitechapel, weighing 13½ tons. To this day, a cross-section of the bell surrounds the entrance door to the Foundry. Worldwide export began at an early date. A set of bells was sent to St.Petersburg, Russia in 1747 and the first transatlantic change ringing peal was sent to Christ Church, Philadelphia in 1754. The bells supplied to St.Michael's, Charleston, South Carolina in 1764 have possibly the most interesting story of any set of bells and may well be the most travelled bells in history ! In 1964, Whitechapel was proud to provide the change ringing peal of 10 bells in a radial frame for the new National Cathedral in Washington DC, and in 1997 we provided North America's first change ringing peal of 12 bells to Toronto Cathedral
The tradition of English handbell ringing in America was built on Whitechapel handbells (originally for change ringing) known to have been sent from Whitechapel was given to Miss Margaret H Nicholls (later Mrs Margaret Schurcliff) by Arthur Hughes, General Manager of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in 1902 after she had successfully rung two handbell peals on a trip to England from Boston. The later progression to tune ringing was followed by the the forming of the New England Guild of Handbell Ringers in 1937, and by the AGEHR (the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers) in 1954.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry's long history spans the reigns of twenty seven English monarchs, and among the royal visitors to the foundry were King George V and Queen Mary who came to witness the casting of two bells for Westminster Abbey. The Foundry buildings date from 1670, four years after the Great Fire of London, and presumably replaced earlier structures lost to that conflagration. Originally built as a coaching inn called the Artichoke, the lease of the buildings was acquired by Thomas Lester - then Master Founder at Whitechapel - to accomodate the need for extra workshops and space during a time of great expansion in the craft of bellfounding. The business moved there from the north side of Whitechapel Road, and has remained on the site ever since, withstanding the ravages of war and development.
The premises are now designated as Grade II listed buildings, and as such may not be altered in any way. Thus the frontage remains unchanged on a very busy East London road amongst many modern buildings. Over the years, the foundry has found itself in the midst of dramatic events, such as when Jack the Ripper was committing his grisly murders in 1888. Then there was World War II....
During the Blitz, in the Second World War, many surrounding buildings were hit and destroyed, including the Church of St. Mary, Whitechapel (the 'white chapel' which gave the area its name), just a few hundred feet from the Foundry. The ground where it stood is now the Altab Ali Park. During the war years, the Foundry ceased making bells, switching to manufacturing castings for the Ministry of War. In the aftermath of the war, the Foundry was very busy replacing peals lost to bombing raids and fires, including the bells of St. Mary le Bow and St. Clement Danes of 'Oranges and Lemons' nursery rhyme fame, in London.
Despite being such an old established company, modern improvements and innovations are always being made by Whitechapel, and these have included the design and building of radial frames for change ringing peals and new technologies in clapper and headstock design which give excellent mechanical properties to their church bells. England's heaviest change ringing bell - Liverpool Cathedral tenor, weighing over 4 tons - was cast by Whitechapel in 1939.
In 1991, the world's first peal of 16 change ringing bells was installed by Whitechapel at the Church of St.Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, England. The traditions of craftsmanship and old skills working alongside modern technology today still produce bells which are renowned, at the "sign of the three bells" in London's East End . The foundery have tours and a shop.
Since 1796, the PACCARD bell founders are the cast bronze magicians…
Today, the PACCARD Bell Foundry is the world reference as far as church and carillon bells are concerned. Between Tradition and Modernity, 7 generations of bell casters succeeded one another, from father to son, to run the business. All things considered, these are more than 120 000 PACCARD bells giving rythm to cities and villages all around the World.
For over 200 years, generations of PACCARD bell founders have created a reputation as the world’s leading bell foundry for musically superior, high-quality bronze bells. Learn more about bells. Established in 1984, the PACCARD Museum showcases the craftsmanship of the PACCARD Bell Foundry and shares the history of the fine art of bell-making with visitors from throughout the world.The PACCARD Museum has something fun for everyone. Whether you are a visiting family, arranging a school trip, or planning a corporate event, the PACCARD Museum has tours that will educate, entertain, and entice you to learn more. Experience the mastery of generations of PACCARD bell founders, witness modern-day bell casting techniques, and glimpse the future through our changing exhibits of ARS SONORA® “tone art” that merges the art of bell-making with fine sculpture and design.The PACCARD Museum offers a wide range of exhibits, seminars, and educational opportunities, including guided tours of the museum and workshop, live bell-casting events, and customized tours.

John Taylor Bellfounders continues a line of bellfounding which has been unbroken since the middle of the 14th Century, when Johannes de Stafford was active only 10 miles from the site of the present foundry. Since 1784 the business has been in the hands of the Taylor family. In 1839 the business settled in Loughborough and is now proud to operate the largest bellfoundry in the world.John Taylor Bellfounders continues a line of bellfounding which has been unbroken since the middle of the 14th Century, when Johannes de Stafford was active only 10 miles from the site of the present foundry.
Since 1784 the business has been in the hands of the Taylor family. In 1839 the business settled in Loughborough and is now proud to operate the largest bellfoundry in the world.
The largest bell in Britain, "Great Paul", the massive Bourdon bell at St Paul's Cathedral in London, was cast in Loughborough in 1881, weight 17,002 kgs, 37,483 pounds. Centuries of experience, together with up to the minute advances in technology, has put Taylors at the forefront in the design and manufacture of bells, their fittings and frameworks for all methods of sounding bells.

Taylor carillons are among the finest in the world: the unique sound of our carillon bells is heard across the globe. We continue the tradition of designing, casting and building superb instruments of beautifully toned bells using the very best materials and techniques. In 2008 we installed a new Taylor carillon in York Minster, the first ever carillon in an English cathedral.
True craftsmanship, attention to detail and quality engineering mark all our carillons. Only Taylors Eayre and Smith have the experience in every aspect of the carillon installation to meet the demands of the carillonneur: superlative bells, clappers, modern transmissions and handcrafted carillon and practice baton keyboards.
Carillons consist of at least 23 bells, arranged chromatically, and may have as many as 77 bells. The heaviest bell, which is called the Bourdon, can range from 300 pounds to over 20 tonnes in weight. The manual action is very similar to that of a chime (described above) but is usually more refined and sophisticated. The playing of the carillon requires an experienced musician and quite often organists undertake to play the carillon.

Many historic Cathedrals and Parish Churches have highly regarded Taylor peals for example St Paul's Cathedral, London; York Minster; Exeter Cathedral; Beverley Minster; Chester Cathedral; Lincoln Cathedral; Trinity Church, New York and many others. The debate over the finest Taylor peal is continuous as there are over 600 complete Taylor peals to choose from!
A new Taylor bell is cast from a mould which is painstakingly hand-crafted in two parts - the core which gives the inner profile of the bell and the case which gives the outer profile of the bell. The bells can be beautifully decorated and carry a commemorative inscription to customers requirements. The decoration, inscription and founders mark are carefully impressed into the case thus producing the decoration on the outside surface of the bell. The core and case are then brought together, clamped and sealed to form the completed mould. The mould is placed in a sand pit and the molten metal poured into the mould. After a few days the casting is cool enough to be removed from the mould and is thoroughly wire brushed.
The bell is then tuning using Taylor’s five tone principle of bell tuning introduced in 1896. This produces the purity and sweetness of tone and allows the bell to sound with full and rich mellowness. This gives Taylor bells their special characteristic and sets them apart from all other cast bronze bells.

sexta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2008

St Puy . Gers. France

GAEC of Ordac
History of Saint-Puy

This is taken from a French text and I have tried to translate it as best I can, I will return to it a little latter, to try and make sense as best I can, of some of the logistics and incorporated and also my difficulty with the French grammer, which is immense. Still it is worth me posting as a means of historical record that I am sure will be of interest, I have also got photographs of the area and will obtain more general information to give a clear and more interesting view of this town.
Puy saint, small village of the South-west of France.
This small village made up of 616 inhabitants, of which an agglomerated population of approximately 200 inhabitants. Cradle of “Pushes-Rapière” and from the foie gras, this primarily rural commune extends its mixed-farming on the sunny surrounding slopes of predominantly calcareous relief of plates. Interest in the formation of the village, all would agree that it goes back into distant times, the exact origin of it is unclear and despite research, being carried out in the commune and its surroundings, the distant history still remains obscure. Information on the village and the castle is also limited: the only reference being the book of Judet of Combe and quotes from the study by Benoit Cursente, in his various works devoted to the Gascon villages, there are finally archaeological discoveries specified in “the review of Gascogne” and in “the Bulletin of the archaeological company of Gers”. Moreover, it is necessary to bear interest to the information transmitted by the memory of old which is often very relevant at raising interrogations and sometimes re solving queries left by the archaeological studies.
Saint-Puy, in the rural district of the Midday-Pyrenees, Department of Gers, District of Condom, Canton of Valence on Fall, covering 37 km2 for a density of 16h/km2. The village is located at the crossroads of the secondary roads: D654 - Condom/Fleurance and D 45- Castéra-Verduzan/Lectoure. Its altitudes minis and maximum amount successively to 87 and 220 meters.
At the time medieval, Saint-Puy was the capital of the County of Gaure until 1280, the time when Fleurance was founded. One note of interest is in the topographic situation, confirmed by the etymology of the name of the village, according to Judet of Combe, the primitive name of Saint-Puy was Sompoy of Latin Summum Podium, who wants to say climax , high plate. The castle of Saint-Puy is indeed built on a plate or terrace which dominates the city, and from where the glance embraces on all sides the horizon. This name, Highest Podium and of Summo Podio to the ablative, one made Sompodio and Sempodio. Sompodio gave Sompoy; then the name varied with the infinite one until Saint-Puy, this later name prevailing. It is interesting to know the reasons for which the name of Saint-Puy underwent all these transformations during time and in the book of Judet of Combe, an explanation of M. Adrien Lavergne is proposed to us : “I would be quite happy to teach you something on Saint-Puy… His true old name was Summum Podium, in Gascon Sum Pouy. As the letters M and NR make with little meadows the same sound, the Latinists of XIVème and XVème centuries forgot the name primitive, and translated the Gascon as if it were Soun (with NR) Pouy.
Here perhaps the explanation of the “Saint”. Initially Sant Pouy or Saint-Pouy then, Saint-Puy, by this corruption, the primitive name is completely modified. The original designation of climax, or the top of, has become a Saint of which none bears this name.
For Judet of Combe, the origins of Saint-Puy lose themselves in the darkness of time. This city must go back with Gallic and Garites about which César speaks. Indeed “Garites lived insulated in the forests, and they lived as poor in hovels, with the walls of mud and the roof thatched … In case of alarm, of unforeseen and sudden invasion from an enemy, they had constructed their huts on high ground with strengthened enclosures, true cities surrounded by solids ramparts, to take refuge with their families and herds”… It would seem appropriate that Sempuy, whose existence goes far back, was one of these fortresses, a city certainly exsisted at the time of Frédelon and of the first Counts of Moors, because it was the capital of this county at that time, it would thus be located around IX/X centuries, one is unaware if Judet of Combe was informed of the archaeological discoveries carried out in the commune, however, these discoveries give him reason.
With 2,5km in the south-east of the village, the Clamensac locality, the discovery in 1895, of a marble capital, deposited with the museum of the archbishop's palace. M.Despaux, note in Review of Gascogne 1895.
2 km to the North-West of the village, in the locality of Ordac, the discovery before 1976 of a “Gallo-Roman villa, the discovery being made during the widening of a local road: M.Labrousse, Information archaeological in Gallia, 1976.
With the locality SOULON, the meadows to the Southern limit of the commune: L.Mazéret formerly announced discoveries of polished axes, remains of iron weapons and tombs of the mérovingiens: Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927
3km to the south-east of the village and in the locality of Glesia, of Holy-Gem, the discovery, in 1812, of a tomb with a funeral inscription galloromaine, these being in three fragments: A.Lavergne, in Review of Gascogne 1885.
2km to the South-west of the village, many discoveries carried out by the land owner in the locality Cauboue (toponym derived from Latin canpona meaning “inn, tavern”) where, in addition to some polished axes, the owner discovered,in “Glésia” a beautiful mutilated head of bearded Jupiter and other fragments of sculptures representing an eagle and the bearded god thought to be Jupiter. On the same site, the owner unearthed fragments of amphoras, tegulae and several currencies…
These discoveries mark the site, without doubt, a place of worship on edge of the Roman way, Lectoure- Eauze: J.Lapart.
Some archaeological discoveries made recently in the Gers, are in the Bulletin of the archaeological Company of Gers, 1982.
With 3km in the South of the village, within the locality Lamazere, discovered around 1895, in shallow tombs (0,40m) containing a sword with two edges of 0,80m of length, two lances and two axes, one believed to be a tomb of the Early middle ages (VI/VII century), the objects related to the burial where undoubtedly not collected: S.D' Esparles, franques Weapons where also found in Saint-Puy: Review of Gascogne, 1896.
Within the Soulon locality, close to the southern limit of the commune, L.Mazé announced discoveries of polished axes, remains of iron weapons and tombs of the mérovingiens: Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927.
An element that would let us suppose that part of the village would date at least from the Roman time, is “the hydrous monuments in Gascogne Gersoise” published in the Company archaeological, historical, literary, scientist of Gers, mentions a fountain close to the castle, which, dating from the Roman time, always exists. This information was confirmed by people of the village.
The two authors whom have written about Saint-Puy (Judet of Combe and M.Dulin) stipulate that the village of the Middle Ages, consisted of two strong castles: manor house above and manor house below (the first being more important than the second). Today there remains nothing more than the castle top, the castle of bottom having disappeared.
The more elevated manor house being at the level of the current castle, on the mound, while the manor house of bottom was to be at the level of the church (cf. Benoit Cursente) information moderated by the inhabitants of the city refer to the lower castle being beneath the church. The city of Saint-Puy,thus referenced, show a true oppidum, defended by a frightening fortress, surrounded by solid ramparts, including a double bastion and four doors with crowned harrows of turns, doubt remains on the number of doors which kept this fortress.
In 1665, “the book of the deliberations of the Town of Saint-puy” counted six doors, perhaps more, if one adds that which M.Dulin speaks of, one known as that of Séchou, on which the weapons of the City were engraved. The fortress defended the city by including the belt of the castle, from the castle, Boulevard of North, the ramparts seemed to go down by the street known as Blaise de Monluc, prolonged by the Boulevard of the Baron´s Door, to fork by the Boulevard of the Ramparts, then skirt what today represents the road leading to Condom, stradling the church, the walls seem to go by the Boulevard of the Setting One( as I am translating this from the French, I must admit to not fully understanding the meanings to all these road directions) from this point, the incorporation of the lower castle inside the fortress, remains prone to guarantee, this assumption poses discussion on the existence of ramparts to the right, before the road, unless, supposing that the aforementioned ramparts crossed what constitutes this road and the probable existence of a second rampart. On the assumption of the inexistence of this lower castle, the ramparts would have to go by the Boulevard of the New Door. However, by considering the cadrastal map most recent, one notes that the street perpendicular to this Boulevard names Boulevard of the Tomb. However, it was of use at the XX century that the old ramparts are called – Boulevard, moreover, this street goes in the logical direction, towards the castle. It is known that the district located on the left of the village, existed and below was located the hamlet of the Tomb, however, information does not remain on the site of the ramparts, in conclusion, there exists no attributions for the old ramparts. Photographs taken in below the village, contradict this assumption, while revealing vestiges of walls, which let suppose traces of old ramparts, disregarding the fortress, it is of interest to surmise that the district to the left of the city was the hamlet of the Tomb, that mentioned in the Napoleonean land register, this hamlet, apparently located behind the martyrdom, at the intersection of the street of the walk at the Tomb and the Boulevard of the Tomb, the martyrdom did not exist at that time and to date, the locality - the Tomb - indicates a place below the way. The origin of this name, we think that people may have had to be buried at this place at the time of epidemics like the plague,however,research cannot has yet verify this opinion.

According to the study of Benoit Cursente, the village includes/understands three parts: Castelnau, a Borough connected with the church and a kind of Country house. What makes of Saint-Puy like Lectoure and Vic-Fezenzac one of the three villages built on this model?

THE CASTELNAU: located at the North-East, on a spur, this castle belonged to famous Blaise de Monluc like the adjacent Castelnau.
THE BOROUGH CONNECTED WITH THE CHURCH: It is the church which was used as the core with a strengthened enclosure, a radiating concentric structure, formerly called the lower Manor house.
THE COUNTRY HOUSE: Placed between the first two parts. A borough with the regular structures.
The CASTELNAU (named Manor house Above)
The date of the construction of Castelnau remains unknown. It is probable that this one goes back to the X century and the time of Frédelon, first count de Gaure and first Lord of the manor of Saint-Puy. The certainty is that a strong castle was built before at 1230, in effect, in the homage paid to the Count de Toulouse by Centulle Count d' Astarac, on September 3 of the aforesaid the year 1230, it is recalled that the Count of Toulouse had already made a gift of a stronghold, in Centulle, the castle of Saint-Puy (cf. Judet of Combe).
In 1272 the castle was destroyed following a disagreement between Géraud de Casaubon, owner of the ground of Saint-Puy, and the Count d' Armagnac who claimed to have rights on this same ground. To Casaubon, it proved that he held all its rights of king de France, this however was not sufficient to stop the disproportionate ambition of the count d' Armagnac, who was to combined with the count de Foix and attack the fortress, destroying its means of defense , they set fire to the Roman church, then devastated the city and its inhabitants, the castle was destroyed in that its roof was burnt.
Restored again by the King of France Philippe III, named the bold one, it took the name of “royal castle”. It passed under the English domination twice and returned, in 1425, to Charles VII, who made a gift of it to the Lord Charles d' Albret, whom subsequently made gift of it to “Mestre d' Hostel ” Pierre de Lasseran Massencomme Seigneur of Monluc. It was to remain in the house of Monluc until the XVIII century, when it was very dilapidated and in need of major restoration. There no longer remains a drawing of the castle which Monluc knew, the current castle, which may be visited, resembles nothing of the castle in the Middle Ages.

Notre Dame de Saint-Puy, directed church, formerly had the title of archidiaconé which it preserved until XV century. Moreover according to M.Dulin the district of the oratory, located outside the enclosure of the city, had a convent which would have reinforce the importance of the church.
This church was destroyed at the same time as the castle in 1272 and its rebuilding was probably in the same location, moreover, the church kept one of its Roman doors located at the west. Notre Dame de Saint-Puy existed at the time of the Roman occupation, this would seem to be confirmed by the dedication with the Virgin, the churches dedicated to the Virgin according to the title employed, supporting the dating of the church, in fact the Dame would seem to date the church towards XI century.
The parish church of Saint-Puy (Our lady of the Nativity) was formerly extremely well equipped until 1420. From the archaeological point of view the church misses one unit, that to the East side and would seem to belong to XVI century, with powerful buttresses supporting it, secondary constructions, vaults, sacristy are used as support the walls of the sanctuary and the nave.
The date for first building is unknown, it was put in place between two poles, a bourg, which draws a regular gridline, indeed the Boulevard de article 19, the street of the war, the street of dry and finally the Boulevard of the Baron´s door, date back to the same time, linking the item bourg ecclesial to castelnau. The Country house undoubtedly dates from XIII century but one is unaware if this urban element existed already, when in 1289 Edouard Ier manda, with his bayle to grant to the inhabitants of Saint-Puy, the uses and habits in legal matters of Fleurance.
Thus, the small village of Saint-puy probably finds his origin around the high-means - age. It is based on a clear but particular construction mixing Castelnau, the Borough connected with the church and the Country house. On the other hand uncertainties remain concerning its ramparts, reinforced by the lack of written and archaeological information.

Jean Castex, George Short, Louis Laspalles, Gascogne d' Autrefois, Editions HORVATH, 1981.
Postcard in black and white of a street in the village of Saint-Puy probably dating from the beginning XX century.
Benoit Cursente and Gilbert Loubes, Villages gersois, I. Around the church, A shade of the castle, collection “Strange Gascogne”, Room Publication of Agriculture of Gers.
Short passage on Saint-Puy with plan of the village dating from the XIXème century. Study on the construction of the village.
Benoit Cursente and Gilbert Loubes, Villages gersois, II. The country houses collection “Strange Gascogne”, room Publication of agriculture of Gers.
No the study on Saint-Puy but presence of a chart showing the origin of our cities and villages gersois of which Saint-Puy. Presence also of a chronology.
Benoit Cursente, castelnaux of the Gascogne Medieval one Passage on the town of Saint-Puy and his construction.
Mr. Dulin, historical Memory on the city of Saint-Puy, Condom, Dupouy Printer of the King, 1847.
Interesting study but the author is not based on any source or at least does not mention them, this is why one cannot take for proof the information contained in this book.
Judet of Combe, the castle of Saint-Puy, his former lords and the family of the Marshal of Monluc, Agen, 1903.
Meticulous study: the author quotes many examples and is based on quantity of works which unfortunately for the majority disappeared. Research was carried out on Judet of Combe that nobody knew, not even the files, and it was discovered that the author was a notary of Agen at the XIX century. Perhaps its load explains the loss of the documents that it used.
Andre Laffargue, Walks in Gascogne, visit at Gascon Monluc and his/her companions, 1980.
Short passage on the village of Saint-Puy.
Bulletin of the archaeological company of Gers, 1982 and 1983.
Chronicles of the church of Condom, 1927.
Archaeological information in “Gallia”, 1976.
Review of Gascogne, 1883 and 1895.
Archaeological, historical, literary company and scientist of Gers
“Hydrous Monuments in Gascogne Gersoise”
Thanks with the Land register of the town of Condom and the personnel of the library of Saint-Puy.

Can I put in a small advert for my friends, whose gite is a dream of a place to stay in the centre of St Puy,

GRCH885 - Saint-Puy Au cœur d'un petit village gascon, Gisèle et Alain vous offrent l'hospitalité dans leur demeure du XVIIe siècle, ouvrant sur un jardin avec piscine (12x6). Table d'hôtes (réservation 72h à l'avance) fermée le mercredi et les mardis et jeudis en juillet et août : table du chef (26€) . NON fumeur. Accès internet Wifi. Tarifs dégressifs et tarifs hors saison.

La Lumiane...5 rooms In adorable village of St. Puy, about 30 min from Lectoure & Fleurance. With swimming pool, meals possible. English spokenContact: Alain & Gisele Eman: Grande Rue, 32310 Saint PuyTel: +33.562289595Email: info@lalumiane.comWeb:
Condom Cathedral

Foie gras and safe sex
Robert Poulton on the charms of Armagnac
Robert Poulton
The Observer, Sunday 29 October 2000
Article history
Immaculately dressed, Christine Labatut-Joutet clambered into the small wooden pen at the rear of her farm shop, swapped her sandals for dainty white rubber boots and perched on a stool. She grabbed the nearest of seven large ducks skulking in a corner. Holding the bird between her knees, she tilted its head to straighten its neck, inserted a foot-long brass funnel, threw in a handful of wet maize - corn off the cob - and flicked a switch. A motor whirred into life, starting a screw in the funnel to deliver the maize from beak to crop without touching the sides. The duck looked undignified. We looked uncertain. Madame looked understanding.
We were in the village of Saint-Puy, in a part of agricultural south-west France which relies for economic survival on producing foie gras and Armagnac and attracting visitors to buy them. The tourist literature is heavy with hedonism. 'Prolong the pleasure,' it says. 'Taste the experience.'
Like most Brits, we had been influenced by the animal rights case against the force-feeding of ducks and geese to enlarge their livers. We were prepared to be horrified at Gallic insensitivity towards our feathered friends. But we found it impossible to cast the charming Christine in the role of Cruella de Vil. She was just so plausible.
'Ducks and geese are migrating birds and before migrating they gorge themselves with food and store it in their livers for the long journey ahead,' she lectured us. 'Farmed birds have lost the instinct for migration but they still have the same digestive system. Force-feeding does not hurt them because there is no obstruction in their necks, and they have a gizzard instead of a stomach.
'The ducks feed themselves normally in the open until they are four months old,' she said - for confirmation, we asked to see them ranging free - 'then I force-feed them with a half-kilo of maize each day for 12 days, then I kill them. In those 12 days the ducks themselves do not grow but their livers grow from 50 grammes to 500 grammes.' And then, as if to clinch her argument: 'If I didn't kill them, their livers would return to normal.'
The liver, and every other salvageable part of the duck including the gizzard and neck, is turned into pté, terrine, rillette, galantine or confit. We were invited to sample foie gras on a cracker with a local sweet white wine.
Madame was evidently sensitive to Anglo-Saxon attitudes. Before we left, she reassured us that the ducks she kept for demonstrations of force-feeding would be allowed to live. That's all right, then.
One of the best places to stay in Armagnac territory - at the risk of bumping into Terry Wogan who has bought a holiday home there - is Condom, the ancient second town of the department of Gers. It's peaceful without being too sleepy, charming without being prettified. The slightly dilapidated cathedral offers a catholic welcome to pigeons and bats as well as people.
Condom has nothing to do with a certain Dr Condom, who according to the French was the personal physician of Charles II of England and gave his name to the contraceptive sheath. Boringly, the name is a contraction of the Gallo-Roman Condatomagus. But the French are milking the coincidence for all it's worth. They have opened a shrine to the redingote (riding coat) anglaise , as they prefer to call the French letter.
The Exposition du Musée du Préservatif is billed grandly as the first step in creating an international cultural and scientific centre for contraception and the prevention of sexual disease. The more banal reality is a display of 'safe sex' publicity materials, an explanation of rubber tapping, a film promoting Durex, an engraving of Casanova 'blowing up balloons' and (while we were there) a member of the dirty mack brigade taking an excessive interest in a video on how to insert the female condom.
A comic line in postcards - marked réproduction interdite with unconscious irony - shows condoms on local landmarks including the cathedral spire.
But Condom should be enjoyed for its true qualities rather than its forced attempt at humour. These are best savoured on a warm September evening, along with a glass of Armagnac which - as the musketeer D'Artagnan, most famous son of Gers, insisted - is the best brandy in the world.
Markets, mermaids and distilleries. What to see in south-west France
• The village fortress of Larressingle with its display of replica medieval war machines and probably the only church to boast a stained-glass mermaid.
• The Gallo-Roman villa of Séviac.
• The fourteenth-century collegiate church at La Romieu, a Unesco world heritage site on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.
• The Cistercian abbey of Flaran, now an arts centre. You can reach it by boat from Condom.
• Don't miss Condom's market on Wednesdays for local produce, clothes and fabrics. Condom website:

sexta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2008

light relief with Duncan

This is just a bit of fluff but of interest to some with the name Duncan, like myself, interest is the more in that my mother named three of us brothers with names that come from early Scottish history, alas we do not have the true heritage to go with the names, here is a society on the web with the name Duncan as there faith. My other brothers have the names Malcolm and Roy, names that go the heart of Scotland and remind me of the heather moors and wide pararamas with mountains of blue and violet.

Clan Duncan History Information, Clan Duncan Society - Scotland UK. Clan Duncan Information and History
The Donachad, Dunchad (Duncans) descends from King Malcolm who reigned from 1005 to 1034 and was the last king in the direct male line to descend from Kenneth MacAlpine, who united the Scots and Picts in 843 A.D. and is considered the founder of Scotland.
One of Malcolm's three daughters, Bethoc, married Crinan, the secular hereditary Abbot of Dunkeld. Through her, the Abbot's son was installed by Malcolm as the King of Cumbria in 1018. After Malcolm II's murder by his nobles at Glamis, Duncan killed his opponents and seized the throne as King Duncan I. His first cousins, Macbeth (of Shakespearean fame) and Thorfinn the Raven Feeder, Norwegian Earl of Orkney, united to advance MacBeth's claim to the throne through his mother, another daughter of Malcolm II. Duncan reigned from 1034 until he was defeated in battle by their combined armies and killed by Macbeth in August 1040 at Elgin. Scotland was then ruled by Thorfinn in the northern districts and Macbeth in the southern districts. Malcolm, Duncan's eldest son, rebelled twice against MacBeth in an effort to gain the throne. His grandfather, Crinan, was slain in 1045 near Dunkeld "with nine times twenty heroes" as he led an aborted attempt to put his grandson on the throne. The second attempt was more successful as Malcolm, at the head of an English Saxon army defeated and killed MacBeth while his Norwegian allies were engaged elsewhere and Malcolm ascended the throne in 1057 as King Malcolm III Ceann Mor (Canmore). In 1068, Malcolm took as his second wife, Margaret, later known and revered as St. Margaret of Scotland. She had fled England with her brother Edgar Aetheling after the Norman Conquest. During his 37 year reign, the first events now known as Highland Games were held on the Braes of Mar to choose the best available men to serve as his servants and soldiers. His death in battle in December 1093 and the death of his wife, several days later brought on a turbulent time which saw Malcolm's eldest son, King Duncan II murdered by Malcolm's brother Donald Bane, Lord of the Isles, in order to become king. Another son, Edgar, finally secured the throne in 1097 with the help of another English army of Saxons and Normans led by his mother's brother, Edgar Aetheling. King Malcolm III's hereditary possessions devolved on his youngest brother, Maelmare, the first celtic Earl of Atholl and on his death, the earldom passed to Malcolm III's namesake, the second son of his first marriage. This Malcolm, the younger brother of the slain King Duncan II is the recognised progenitor of the Clan. As stated by the eminent historian, William F. Skene in 1837, "the Robertsons of Struan are one of the oldest families in Scotland, being a branch of that Royal House of Atholl which occupied the throne of Scotland during the 11th and 12th centuries." The male line of this royal house ended in 1286 with the untimely death of Alexander III when he fell from his horse. On the death of Alexander III's daughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway", Scotland was plunged into the famous wars of succession to determine who would be the next King of the Scots. The claimants to the throne, the houses of Balliol and Bruce, who in turn became rulers of Scotland, were of Norman origin in the male line, though they descended on the female side from the ancient Atholl dynasty. England, led by King Edward I, supported John Balliol. By 1306, Robert the Bruce had been crowned King of Scots at Scone and the War of Independence from the English continued while at the same time he continued to consolidate his hold on the throne among rival Scots claimants. The Clan's first recognised Chief was Donnachadh Reamhair, or "Stout Duncan", who led the clan and supported Bruce during the wars of Scottish independence which culminated in Bruce's famous victory at Bannockburn on June 24, 1314 over Edward II's army. The most precious clan relic, the celebrated rock crystal charm stone of the clan, the "Clach na Brataich" or "ensign stone", was unearthed when the chief's standard pole was pulled from the ground while on the march to Bannockburn. It has been carried by all chiefs since then when leading the clan to battle. Stout Duncan had four sons. The three younger sons: Patrick, Thomas and Gibbon, were outlawed by King Robert III for their part in leading the daring "Raid of Angus" in 1392 which garnered 3,000 head of fat Angus cattle, laid waste the district of Angus and resulted in the death of the Sheriff of Angus and a host of his followers who had pursued the clan back to Atholl. The eldest son, Robert, became the second Chief in 1355 and died sometime after 1392. Duncan, his eldest son and third Chief, spend some time as a hostage in England for the ransom of King James I and died sometime before 1432. He was known as the Lord of Rannoch, as all the other lands in Rannoch in the hands of the Crown. His eldest son, Robert Ruabh Duncanson, fourth Chief, was a strong supporter of King James I and was incensed by his murder. He tracked down and captured the regicides, Sir Robert Graham and the Master of Atholl hiding in a small glen and turned them over to the Crown. They were drawn and quartered at Sterling Castle.The Robertson crest badge of a right hand holding an imperial crown was awarded by King James II to the fourth Chief, on August 15, 1451 as a reward for capturing the assassins of King James I in 1437. It is from this Chief that his descendants and many of his clan folk took the name "Robert's sons" or Robertson. This is only one account of the early history of the Duncans and up to this point, many would agree with this early historical account. However if we accept the above view, not all clans folk followed their then chief and changed their name, as did he, to that of Robertson; as evidenced today by the number of individuals and families around the world who retain the name of Duncan and the various spellings thereof. Rather than show allegiance to the Chief of Clan Robertson (Donnachaidh) many Duncans have chosen to use the crest in a belt & buckle (ship under sail) said to be that of Clan Duncan, depicting Admiral Adam Duncan of Camperdowns Crest, sadly its neither. It is also interesting to note that, almost as a departure from normal heraldic practice, all grants of arms in the name of Duncan do not bear any resemblance to those arms of their supposed chief who is a Robertson. Could it be that by wearing the clansman’s crest badge, said to be that of Duncan, all be it a contrived one, show that a very large proportion of Duncans do not wish to show allegiance to a Chief of a Clan they do not regard as their own or follow a Chief not of their own name? Robertson of Struan at present is (according to Burke’s Landed Gentry of Scotland) the 24th Chief of Clan Robertson and the 28th Chief of Clan Donnachaidh and there can be no doubt that his genealogy links him to both but, to be Chief of Robertson’s is one thing, to be Chief over the name ‘Duncan’, a name he and his immediate family abandoned over 450 years ago is quite another.

quarta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2008

wood carving and the history of a family in Ouro Preto

Acredita-se que foi o bandeirante Antônio Dias o construtor da primitiva capela de taipa, logo no início da instalação do primeiro arraial, em 1699. Em 1707 já existia essa capela, a primitiva Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceição. Era a Matriz Velha da Conceição, muito maior do que sua contemporânea, a Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Pilar. Há documentos datados de 1727 e 1729, comprovando o enterramento de escravos. De acordo com a tradição as Matrizes estavam voltadas para a rua Direita que, ao contrário do que se pode pensar, é uma rua torta, é na realidade "direta". Atualmente a antiga rua Direita chama-se Bernardo de Vasconcellos. Em 1727, Manuel Francisco Lisboa é encarregado de elaborar o projeto da nova Matriz. Esta grande igreja é uma das mais importantes de Ouro Preto, não só pelas suas proporções, como pela sua qualidade arquitetônica, incluída ai a esplêndida ornamentação interior. A atribuição do projeto a Manuel Francisco Lisboa baseia-se principalmente na "Memória que se lê no respectivo livro de registro de fatos notáveis estabelecido pela ordem régia de 20 de julho de 1782", segundo Rodrigo José Ferreira Bretas - Traços Biográficos do Finado Antônio Francisco Lisboa, publicado pelo "Correio Oficial de Minas", em 1858, na Revista do Arquivo Público Mineiro, Vol. 1 em 1896 e nas Publicações do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional nº 15, Rio, 1951. A Memória acima referida é o depoimento do 2º Vereador do Senado da Câmara de Mariana, José Joaquim da Silva, contemporâneo da época das grandes construções em Ouro Preto. O depoimento do vereador, transcrito por Bretas, é confirmado pelos documentos que se vão descobrindo de modo que tanto Silva como Bretas tornam-se fontes fidedignas de informação. Manuel Francisco Lisboa, além de traçar o projeto, foi o arrematante das obras, e seu nome figura em pagamentos, feitos por diversos trabalhos até 1742. É de supor que, em meados do século XVIII, a igreja já estaria terminada, no que respeita as obras de alvenaria, cobertura, soalhos, forros, esquadrías, enfim os componentes arquitetônicos básicos.

Durante todo o século XVIII e inicio do século XIX, estenderam-se os trabalhos relativos à ornamentação interior. Há pouca documentação com referência a esses trabalhos. Sabe-se com segurança que entre 1760 e 1765 Filipe Vieira, entalhador, foi pago por trabalhos de talha na capela-mor. Quanto à fachada, há notícia de que em 1794 já estaria arruinada, e que foi reconstruída no século XIX. Alguma influência neoclássica ter-se-á manifestado nessa reconstrução, mas não chegou a alterar substancialmente a obra original. Bazin é de opinião que o frontispício se teria tomado "uma evidente imitação neoclássica da igreja do Carmo da mesma cidade". Ora, o projeto do Carmo deve-se ao mesmo autor da Matriz de Antônio Dias: Manuel Francisco Lisboa. Nada mais natural que o autor tivesse utilizado, em 1766 (Carmo), o mesmo esquema de composição, inclusive o frontão e o arqueamento central do entablamento e até o medalhão linear traçado no corpo do frontão. Seja como for, não devemos lamentar as eventuais imperfeições da obra reconstruída, desde que não houve prejuízo da volumetria, nem perda da unidade. Em 1949 o então DPHAN (Departamento do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional) iniciou a remoção da repintura dos elementos da nave, feita no século XIX, sem que tenha concluído esse trabalho. A partir de meados de 1980 o IEPHA-MG, realizou um trabalho considerável de conservação interessando diversas partes da obra, como telhado, forros, pisos, pintura, rede elétrica, rede hidráulica, inclusive chafarizes, entre outros serviços. Esse trabalho de capital importância interveio oportunamente, de vez que o monumento estava já em vias de deterioração, por simples abandono e incúria dos responsáveis. Entre outras glórias da Matriz de Antônio Dias está o fato de ter nascido, vivido, trabalhado e morrido na paróquia de Antônio Dias, o maior artista do Brasil: Antônio Francisco Lisboa. Tanto ele como seu pai, o arquiteto da Matriz, estão enterrados na velha e ilustre igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Antônio Dias. Permanecem, hoje ainda, resquícios da rivalidade entre as duas paróquias, a de Antônio Dias e a de Ouro Preto, na qual a Matriz é Nossa Senhora do Pilar. Rivalidade que remonta à luta entre Paulistas e Emboabas, brasileiros de Antônio Dias, a primeira fundação e portugueses do Pilar. A Matriz da Conceição permanece com os fumos e glórias do passado, um dos monumentos mais importantes do Brasil.

A igreja localiza-se após uma longa descida, de quem vem da praça Tiradentes, pela antiga rua Direita. Chega-se pelos fundos do monumento, até chegar à fachada que é voltada para antiga região de lavras. Cercada por uma moldura de casas simples, já deixados para trás as casas fidalgas como a de Gonzaga. O casario baixo valoriza e dá escala monumental à massa imponente da Matriz. O acesso é limitado por uma grade de pouca altura, limitando o adro. A frontaria é a das grandes Matrizes mineiras, dividida em três corpos por cunhais e pilastras, de capitéis clássicos. A portada é bastante simples, em verga curva, com cimalha e duas pontas de volutas, entre as quais está um pequeno brasão imperial. De cada lado, como de costume, as duas janelas rasgadas ao nível do coro, com sacadas de ferro, e acima do brasão o óculo quadrilobado envidraçado. O grande entablamento, que corre ao longo do grande bloco que contém a nave, incurva-se sobre o óculo, continuando a mesma modenatura. Acima, levanta-se o frontão decorado com motivos curvilíneos, numa composição de curvas e contracurvas e duas pilastras; os elementos ornamentais são em estuque; o frontão é terminado por uma cornija reta encimada por dois coruchéus e a cruz com resplendor sobre pedestal baixo, apoiada sobre o crescente lunar, um dos símbolos da Imaculada. As duas torres prismáticas chanfreadas nos cantos contêm os sinos e são cobertas por cúpulas de alvenaria, terminadas por coruchéus. No corpo das torres, abaixo do entablamento, duas frestas alongadas iluminam, na torre do lado esquerdo, a escada de caracol e do lado direito o batistério. O longo bloco da construção, que ocupa uma área de cerca de 55,00 x 20,00m, divide-se em dois corpos: o da nave e o da capela-mor, corredores, sacristia, consistório. O primeiro é mais alto, e ambos cobertos por telhados de duas águas. Entremos agora, para contemplar o interior. A nave apresenta uma seqüência de oito altares e retábulos, além dos púlpitos e um revestimento de talha cobrindo as paredes. A entrada vê-se a pia de água benta, trabalhada em pedra-sabão; o batistério com grande pia de pedra e pintura representando o batismo de São João. O grande tapa-vento é de madeira, com tarja entalhada e vidros. O coro é suportado por colunas duplas e grande arco, fechado por grade de balaústres torneados em jacarandá, dando acesso às tribunas do corpo central (nave) em número de quatro de cada lado, em forma de sacadas fechadas por balaústres idênticos aos do coro. Há oito quadros oblongos, correspondendo aos altares. O teto é simples, com um grande lustre antigo, de cristal e mais nove menores, sendo que um pendendo da tarja situada na parte média do coro e os demais suspensos em suportes fixados na tarja de cada um dos retábulos. Há ainda outros menores, colocados no alto de cada tribuna. Quanto aos altares, no sentido da entrada: o primeiro à esquerda sob a invocação de São José com bela imagem do Santo e do Menino; a talha, como a dos outros altares, é extremamente rica, correspondendo à época de Dom João V, em pleno apogeu do barroco. O tratamento dos altares, retábulos, púlpitos, tribunas e do revestimento em geral é em branco e ouro, pintura e douramento a folha de ouro. O conjunto da talha da nave é ressaltado pelos retábulos, com a ornamentação fitomórfica, as colunas torsas, os baldaquins e sanefas, toda uma multidão de figuras de anjos, serafins.Ainda na seqüência dos altares, os seguintes são: o primeiro à direita, dedicado a Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte; é ao pé desse altar que está sepultado o Aleijadinho; o segundo altar à esquerda é dedicado a São Sebastião; o segundo altar à direita é dedicado a Nossa Senhora do Rosário; o terceiro altar à esquerda é dedicado a Santo Antônio; o terceiro à direita é dedicado a São Gonçalo; o quarto altar à esquerda é dedicado a Nossa Senhora Aparecida; o quarto altar à direita está sob a invocação das almas. O arco-cruzeiro é de cantaria, com capitel trabalhado, com frisos dourados e grande tarja entalhada, do Santíssimo Sacramento, com dois serafins. A capela-mor tem o teto ricamente moldurado e entalhado, com opulento medalhão central, no qual se desenvolve uma multidão de motivos ornamentais, entre os quais os feixes de trigo (o pão) e os túrgidos cachos de uva (o vinho), os símbolos da Eucaristia. Ao medalhão central associam-se os quatro evangelistas, obra de artista anônimo e nos quatro cantos extremos os Doutores da Igreja igualmente enquadrados em molduras trabalhadíssimas. As paredes da capela-mor são revestidas de talha e abertas de cada lado em três tribunas com balaustradas de jacarandá. O altar-mor é uma peça capital, tendo de cada lado do camarim os dois grandes nichos, encimados por três serafins acima dos seis esculpidos. As colunas torsas dos lados são enriquecidas com as "torsades" florais em ouro sobre o branco. O grande nicho contém o trono, em quatro ou cinco degraus móveis. Nesse pedestal de glória assenta-se a magnífica imagem de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, de tamanho natural, com coroa de prata e resplendor com 12 estrelas e uma pedra preciosa em cada. Nos nichos laterais as imagens de São João Nepomuceno, o mártir da Boêmia, assassinado pelo rei Vacslav IV no século XIV e que só foi canonizado no século XVIII por iniciativa dos jesuítas; e também a imagem de Santa Bárbara, a antiga mártir do século III, que, obrigada pelo cônsul Marciano a sair nua pelas ruas rogou a nação: "Senhor, Vós que cobris os céus de nuvens..." protetora das borrascas, das trovoadas, mas também padroeira dos pedreiros, dos artilheiros e dos mineiros. A tarja que encima o trono representa a Arca de Noé e a pomba da Paz, ladeada por dois serafins. O piso da capela-mor é um soalho de campas, e é relativamente recente a instalação de um pequeno museu, reunindo obras e peças relativas ao Aleijadinho, em local secundário da igreja. Em conclusão: a plenitude do barroco setecentista dá-nos talvez uma sensação de forças contraditórias, na grande e poderosa ilusão do Barroco. Lourival Gomes Machado, que escreveu páginas magistrais sobre o Barroco Mineiro, falou longamente sobre a igreja de Antônio Dias, exemplar de eleição disse: "Só se chega ao barroco mergulhando nele, ou melhor, deixando que ele submerja o espectador".

No período colonial o abastecimento de água sempre foi um problema, principalmente nas cidades mais importantes. Em regiões de serra como Minas, havia grande abundância de nascentes, de "olhos d'água" o que dava em algumas residências a facilidade do abastecimento doméstico. Mas, de modo geral, os governantes se preocuparam com o abastecimento público. Daí as fontes públicas, ou chafarizes, onde se vinham abastecer os escravos, com vasilhame que carregavam sobre as cabeças, segundo a antiga tradição portuguesa medieval: a água, canalizada para uma construção, distribuída por bicas ou carrancas, jorrando noite e dia e recolhidas num tanque. Serviam também como bebedouro de animais. Essas construções consistiam, geralmente, em composição arquitetônica, ao sabor da imaginação dos construtores, executadas em alvenaria de pedra, e por vezes assumindo proporções consideráveis. Eram localizadas nos pontos de maior aglomeração, dentro do espírito barroco da época. As cidades coloniais possuíam numerosos monumentos para esse fim, uma vez que não existia canalizações urbanas, nem para água nem para esgotos. O problema dos dejetos domésticos era resolvido pelos escravos, transportando na cabeça os barris ou "tigres", levados a despejar em sítios afastados. Voltando aos chafarizes, a água chegava a eles canalizada dos mananciais ora em telhas ajustadas, ora em alcatruzes, ou sejam, manilhas em pedra-sabão. Havia, ao todo, 18 chafarizes em Ouro Preto.
Chafariz da BarraChafariz da ColunaChafariz da Igreja de Antônio DiasChafariz da Praça TiradentesChafariz da Rua Barão de Ouro BrancoChafariz da Rua da GlóriaCahfariz da Rua das CabeçasChafariz da Rua das FloresChafariz das Águas FérreasChafariz das LagesChafariz do Alto das CabeçasChafariz do Alto da CruzChafariz do Largo de MaríliaChafariz do Largo Frei Vicente BotelhoChafariz do Passo de Antônio DiasChafariz do PilarChafariz do RosárioChafariz dos Contos

A cidade de Ouro Preto está assentada nos contrafortes da vertente ocidental da Serra do Espinhaço, dominada pelo pico do Itacolomi. O recorte caprichoso e tumultuado das montanhas, combinado com uma topografia essencialmente "barroca", com largas ondulações, das quais emerge aqui e ali uma colina, propícia para pôr em destaque os monumentos, isolados ou em grupos. As encostas abrem-se em vincos profundos abertos na rocha colorida, cujos tons de ocre, rosa e cinza rasgam-se de sombras, interrompem-se com o verde gríseo da vegetação rasteira dominadas pelo azul do céu. É toda uma sinfonia cromática em tom menor, feita de melancolia e soberba. A cidade ocupa o fundo de quatro grandes vales, ligados por nove grandes pontes, que estabelecem ligação entre ruas íngremes e ondulantes, esposando a topografia acidentada. Lembra as cidades do norte de Portugal, presas ao solo, vinculadas a ele e beirando sempre a água. Os rios serpeiam pelo vale, em curvas caprichosas. Outras onze pontes menores interligam o conjunto geral urbano. Os primitivos grupos de povoação foram descendo em direção aos rios, onde se ia batear o outro. Uma cruz ergue-se, via de regra, no meio das pontes e, em maio, um coro de devotos organiza o Ofício, da Santa Cruz, seguido de festas, com música, iluminação, fogos de artifício e... muito amendoim. Como participam do festejo os vendedores dos grãozinhos torrados, os estudantes, irreverentes, deram-lhe o nome de Festa do Amendoim. Essa tradição, pouco a pouco vai desaparecendo. O local escolhido é a ponte de Antônio Dias e a data habitual é 3 de maio. As pontes de Ouro Preto foram solidamente construídas por homens que traziam de Portugal as velhas tradições do "pontifix" romano. Os grandes arcos de alvenaria de pedra cuidadosamente argamassada e impermeabilizada com breu, galgam o vinco profundo de rios e torrentes, permitindo a livre circulação por toda a cidade. Sempre elevadas, essas pontes são protegidas contra as cheias e assentadas em sólidos e profundos alicerces. São também sítio de repouso, devaneio e namoro, providas de bancos e, como geralmente dominam um vale, entre construções, fornecem aos artistas um local panorâmico, propício a plantar o cavalete, ao turista para fazer uma fotografia, ao poeta para debruçar-se e sonhar ao marulho das águas, o que nem sempre é possível, pois o rio secou.
Ponte da BarraPonte do Antônio DiasPonte do FunilPonte do Padre FariaPonte do Palácio VelhoPonte do PilarPonte do RosárioPonte dos ContosPonte Seca