Saturday, 15 December 2007

Censored pig cookie bum

Flickr user Carol Browne bought a Chinese pig cookie for New Year's 2007 from a local Asian shop in Vancouver, Canada. Guess where the bakers chose to insert the red bean paste ...

See more pictures of the pig cookie!

Censored pig bum
Originally uploaded by Carol Browne

Pig cake, Shanghai

A probably very yummy cake in the shape of a black piggy - with a ribbon! I wonder what it says on its back ...
Photographed by meckleychina on Flickr.

Pig of the Day - Jun 09, 2007 - Shanghai
Originally uploaded by meckleychina

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Pigs in the Pergamon Museum

Today I visited the Pergamon Museum here in Berlin. Of course, I scanned all the exhibits searching for pig motifs, and I indeed found a few.

I apologise for the bad quality of some (most) of the photos. Bad lighting conditions, no flash, handheld camera, crappy white balance, and all that.

Above: Double vessel in the form of two little pigs, Assyria, 8th/7th century BCE. They are likely to be domestic pigs, which makes them quite interesting - pigs didn't seem to be all that common in Assyrian arts and crafts. And is there some particular meaning behind the double shape?

Above and below: Boar's head, Babylon, 1st century BCE/year 12 of Nebukadnezar II. It's hard to tell what exact meaning the boar might have in this case.

Below: This piece was described only collectively as one of a number of "riders and animal figures", but it can hardly be anything but a boar. 2nd-1st century BCE, Babylon. The hairiness of the pig suggests that it's likely to be a wild boar.

Below: An object from Luristan, a province in western Iran inhabited by nomadic tribes. These objects are usually offerings from graves. Somewhere between 8th/7th - mid-3rd century BCE. I'm not sure about its function. The similar piece with a deer above it and the nomadic culture of its makers suggest a hunting theme.

Below: A wall relief plate with a jumping boar, Iraq (Ktesiphon area), 7th-6th century. From the intrados of a house in Umm az-Za'âtir. I'm guessing this piece is related to hunting, as well.

Below: Hunting bowl with a Sassanid great king attacked by a boar, Iran, 7th century. Silver, partly gilded. The wild boar as a dangerous adversary. Of course, the king will be victorious in the end ...

Below: A seal stone (to the left) with a wild boar and Pahlavi inscription, Iran, 5th-6th century. To the right is an enlarged image of its impression. I wish I knew what the incription says.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Buta no bento!

Some Japanese wives and mums (probably also husbands and dads) with too much free time put a lot of effort and creativity in preparing the lunch boxes - bento in Japanese - for their family members. There are people (nowadays not only in Japan) who have it as a real hobby, and create amazing works of art in those lunch boxes. One of them is the author of the blog Bento Corner.

Here is a pig-themed bento she made for her daughter:

"Bu-ta-chan onigiri bento with gyoza, tamagoyaki, salad, and grapes.
My daughter is quirky sometimes. She took a look at the pig onigiri and said, 'No, I don't want this bento. The pig is scary. Please make me a new bento.'
But. The pig. Is. Smiling."

But then, mum suggested they could put a little ribbon on the piggy, and that made it less scary, and thus edible.

Here is a pig-themed bento of the wild variation:

It's from, which is filled with the most incredible food pr0n I've seen in quite a while ... (Click on the date links in the top frame here to browse all the great wonders.)

These bentos give a whole new dimension to the rule used by some vegetarians and vegans - "I don't eat anything that has eyes."

Monday, 6 August 2007

Boar tattoos

I have a tattoo of a boar in some kind of fake-medieval Russian style. I got it because the wild boar is something like my totem animal. To me, wild boars have always been brave, strong, straightforward and - not least - feared and hated. As with wolves, European hunters in the previous centuries would orchestrate mass slaughters of wild boars, telling themselves that the boars were embodiments of Satan. Hunters generally fear boars, because they are very dangerous to hunt due to their strength and intelligence.

I've so far only once had the privilege of encountering boars in the wild. I was camping with my boyfriend at the time in the very sparsely populated hills of Macini in eastern Romania. The low forests on the hillsides were full of boar's paths. In the night, we heard a fairly large herd of wild boars walk by in the forest near our tent. They were grunting and uffing and clearly discussing our presence ...

I'm certainly not the only one with a boar tattoo. This is how gives a (very basic) explanation of the symbolism behind boar tattoos:

"Unlike the PIG, the boar has been a companion to the warrior. In the wild, the boar is an aggressive animal and unrelenting in its attack. Norse warriors would use the image of the boar for decorative purposes as well as its actual teeth for various forms of adornment. In ancient Japan the war god himself was sometimes depicted as a boar. It was a sacred animal for the Celts for whom it symbolized military strength and goodness."

Illustrations from top to bottom:
1. My tattoo, inked by Pete at Exotic Tattoo in Lund, Sweden, in 2001. I modified the design myself from an illustration in a Russian children's book on history, and Pete added the gray shades.
2. Osaya's tattoo. Follow the link and you'll see a photo collage on how it was made.
3. Jay's pictish boar tattoo. Jay says: "I think it goes well with my kilt."
4. An Asian-inspired tattoo design with a moon, an owl, a gingko tree and a Chinese sage riding a boar, by Josh Roelink from Tatudharma in Sydney. Via DesignHub.


mpiette83 has a cool tattoo of a warthog on his chest. entertain Anglo-Saxon nationalism, and also traditional tattoo designs, including boars. They write: "Of all the animal symbols that were revered by the Anglo-Saxons it is quite possibly the Boar that was revered above all others. It was used as a symbol of protection and because of this it can often be found on Saxon War Helmets. In the old English epic poem Beowulf you can read about warriors going into battle with Boar crested helmets and many have been found buried at English archeology sites. It was believed that the image of the boar would bring protection to its wearer at times of war and they would be infused by its strength, power and ferocity. The boar was also closely connected to the Anglo-Saxon god Ingui. As well as the protection offered by the image of the boar, at times of battle those wearing this symbol believed that Ingui would watch over and protect them above all others."

Okay, I saved the best for last. Or, rather, I only came across it a couple of days later, by chance. On the left are reproductions of tattoos of Russian criminals, found on Fig. 47 is a boar, and the caption goes like this:

"A wild boar or its head - a tattoo used by female criminals, who have spent a prolonged time in prison and engage in lesbian love. The wild boar is a symbol of power and masculinity, and a woman with this tattoo has taken on the role of the man."

In other words, I have a classic butch tattoo.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Spider Pig!

After watching The Simpsons Movie, I was at first disappointed that we didn't get to know what happened to Homer's new friend Spider Pig, or Harry Plopper. I assumed he had perished, like a sinful seducer who finds redemption in the last minute and can die and go to heaven, after all ... But then I read that he will make an appearance in the first episode of the new Simpsons season, which changed the symbolism of his role a bit.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Scythian boar imagery

Today I was at the recently opened exhibition "Under the Sign of the Golden Griffin - The Royal Tombs of the Scythians" in the Martin-Gropius-Bau. I somehow imagined that photographing would not be permitted, so there I was with my drawing pad while everyone else was taking tons of pictures of the exhibits with their digicams and phones. Oh well, maybe I'll go there another time with my camera.

Most of the exhibits were extremely elaborate metal works that had been well preserved in graves and other sites. A lot of the designs had animal motifs: most commonly horses, which were essential in the Scythian lifestyle, and deer, which probably were the most common and/or popular prey of Scythian hunters, but there were also motifs of other animals, like moose, tigers, fish, wolves, eagles, roosters, etc., depending a bit on the fauna of the region of their origin. Of course, I kept an eye out for images of boars.

The two first sketches are adornments on horse bridles, two boars among dozens of deer, ibex, moose, tigers and other animals, from the 5th century BCE.

Though images of deer and horses clearly dominated, there were also a few boars. Most of them were depicted in hunting scenes or perhaps as food offerings, often along with deer.
The two boars on the left are from a petroglyph from the kurgan in Arzhan, Tuva. They are part of a design with three boars and four ibex sheep. The boars below are from another petroglyph at the same site. Towards the left, the design continues with deer figures. The boars in this images appear to be lying down on their side, and are thus most likely depictions of offerings.

This golden pectoral found in Ordzhonikidze was also among the exhibits. Its design incorporates various scenes, among them a lion attacking a wild boar.
Here is a photo with some of the golden adornments worn by a noble couple found in a grave in Arzhan. Among them are "thousands of little panthers and boars from the cloaks of the couple".

Above to the left is a sketch of one of several dozens of little golden boar figures that used to adorn a quiver (Arzhan, Tuva, late 7th century BCE). The sketch on the right might give an impression of how the little boars were arranged. (Each dimple = a little golden boar figure).
Maybe they were supposed to give good luck in hunting, or be symbols for all the boars that the owner of the quiver had slain.

On the left is a dagger with a knob in the shape of a boar from Arzhan, Tuva. There was only a schematic drawing of it in the exhibition.

There were also boar's teeth on display (9th-8th century BCE), which had been worn as a necklace, perhaps as hunting trophies.

In excavations of ancient fortifications in Stânceşti, Moldova, something quite interesting had been found: a fish with the head of a boar and, probably, the tail of a bird. It stems from the 5th or 4th century BCE, and was most likely part of a headdress for a horse, worn on the side of the horse's face. It was about 30 cm long and made of gold.

One interpretation is that the figure symbolizes the three elements earth (boar), water (fish) and air (bird). "Similar motifs have been found among both Thrakian an Scythian remains", it said.

The scythian noblemen had fiercely kick-ass tattoos, but unfortunately none of the tattoos shown in this exhibition (in drawings, a mummified man and the preserved skin from another man's arm) had any boar motifs.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Pig-to-human xenotransplants

Since many humans are very afraid of death and illness, there is a constant quest to find cures for diseases and malfunctions of the body. When an organ in the human body fails, it can nowadays be replaced with a healthy organ from a donor. Kidneys can be taken from living humans who are okay with getting on with only one kidney, while livers, hearts and other single organs will have to be taken from a dead human.

There is, however, a shortage of donated organs, and patients will often have to wait very long, and pay very large sums of money for it. Organs are big business, and there are sometimes reports of criminals killing people for their organs, or tricking people for a kidney.

Another possibility might be to transplant organs from genetically modified pigs. Pigs are very similar in size and form, and with genetical modification, it could be possible to make them even more similar to the human who would get the organ. Here is a basic Q&A about pig-to-human xenotransplants.

But pig organ transplants are dangerous and costly. Professor Sheila McLean and Doctor Laura Williamson spent 16 months putting together a 700-page document on the legal and ethical implications of xenotransplantation, and to help formulate a strategy for proceeding with the contentious technology.

"Its conclusions, leaked to The Observer at the end of June 2003, warn that the NHS and companies involved would be liable for a huge lawsuit if new, potentially lethal viruses emerge from the practice of putting pig cells and organs into the human body. And if the disease - which some experts have warned could create a new HIV-type virus - spreads across the world, the Government could be sued for breaching international law.

Patients would also have to choose between death and agreeing to lifelong monitoring and not to have unprotected sex or children, in case any disease could be passed on to another generation."

In the end, the government decided not to publish parts of the report, causing wide outrage.
Something else that could only be published after years of legal battle are the Diaries of Despair, a report on "the secret history of pig-to-primate organ transplants", which in horrific detail reveals one of Britain's most extreme programmes of animal experimentation, made to prepare the way for pig-to-human organ transplants.

Finally, Xenotransplantation - How Bad Science and Big Business Put the World at Risk from Viral Pandemics (Mae-Wan Ho and Joe Cummins, ISIS Sustainable Science Audit #2) "exposes the shoddy science that puts the world at risk of viral pandemics for the sake of corporate profit, and concludes that xenotranplantation should not be allowed to continue in any form. Instead, effort should be devoted to developing safer, more sustainable and affordable alternatives that are already showing promise and will be more likely to benefit society as a whole in the industrialized west as well as in the Third World."

Read more in this Stanford article.


This whole issue makes me think of Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog, where a professor implants human testicles and pituitary gland into a stray dog called Sharik. (The story deeply disapponted me, as I had always thought it would be about a human who gets a dog heart transplant and turns doglike (and becomes a bigshot in the new Soviet Russia). But instead, it's a dog that gets human organs, and slowly turns more and more like the human donor (and becomes a bigshot in the new Soviet Russia). Hmm, so why "heart of a dog "? I only like the story because of the dog's internal monologues, before and after his period as the (mostly) human "Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov" ...)

Alice and the baby pig

In a slightly less known passage of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice notices that the baby she is carrying around has turned into a pig!

'The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see what was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that it had a very turn-up nose, much more like a snout than a real nose: also its eyes were getting extremely small for I a baby: altogether Alice did not like the look of the thing at all. “But perhaps it was only sobbing,” she thought, and looked into its eyes again, to see if there were any tears.

No, there were no tears. “If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear" said Alice, seriously, “I’ll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!” The poor little thing sobbed again (or grunted, it was impossible to say which), and they went on for some while in silence.

Alice was just beginning to think to herself, “Now, what am I to do with this creature, when I get it home?” when it grunted again, so violently, that she looked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be no mistake about it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that it would be quite absurd for her to carry it any further.

So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the wood. “If it had grown up,” she said to herself, “it would have made a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.” And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, “if one only knew the right way to change them—” when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire-Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.'

Had it been me, I would have been happy to bring the little piggy home and take care of it ...

Here is the whole book, with illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell.

Somewhere, a pig was herding sheep ...

... But I can't find the article about it.

Today I read in the Swedish newspaper DN about the llama stallion Grosse Günther, who will protect a herd of sheep against wolves. "At four years of age, the llamas are equipped with so-called killer-teeth, sharp like razorblades and enough to get most attackers", the sheepfarmer Ulf Ekman explains.

It's a bit funny, because I thought livestock guarding dogs (NB, not the same as herding dogs) were the best choice for protecting sheep against wolves (employed by sheepfarmers wherever humans, wolves and sheep have been coexisting since earliest times). Here is a report on livestock guarding dogs in Slovakia (in PDF format). Some typical livestock guarding dog breeds are Carpathian shepherd dogs, Mioritic shepherd dogs, Caucasian ovcharkas, Central Asian ovcharkas and Kangals.

But maybe these Swedish sheepfarmers don't have any experience with such dogs, and a llama is much easier for them to handle?

Anyway, why is this post about dogs, sheep and llamas, but not pigs?

Well, as I read about Grosse Günther, I remembered a story about a pig herding sheep some time in the 19th century, like a real-life Babe. The pig would lead the sheep to good grazing, bring them home in the evenings, and chase off wolves if need be.
I came across that story a couple of years ago as I was researching for "Pigs Have Wings", but I can't find it anymore ... If anyone has more luck than me, drop me a note!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Forest in Winter

From the directors: “This darkly comedic short film perverts a well-known fairy tale into a bizarre fable that is poised to traumatize a new generation of children and adults.”

Concept/design: Jake Portman, Bill Sneed
Story: Charlie Short
Music/sound design: Braincloud

They have obviously watched a lot of Yury Norstein animations. The subtitles don't do the Russian narration any justice, but that was probably fully intentional ...

Saturday, 2 June 2007 - Pigs we are!

Chrum is a design firm from Warsaw that specializes not least in all kinds of swinish motifs - often sarcastic and humourous, playing with the nasty stereotypes about pigs ... and sometimes unexpectedly heartwarming.

They have some very nice T-shirts.

Clovis and his bovine friends

Der Spiegel writes: "A modern-day boar in the north-western French region where the Asterix comics are set has avoided the plight of his forebears -- and even befriended a herd of cows."

In the district of Lohuec, a young wild boar has been adopted by a herd of cows. Locals have given him the name Clovis. Clovis and his cow friends seem to live happily and peacefully together, and local farmer Richard Crassin even feeds him together with the cows.
(Photo: AFP)

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Pigs in service of humanity ...

Pigs have previously been trained to find truffles and narcotics, and now, also mines. In Israel, of all places.

The Wonderful Pig of Knowledge writes about Giva Zin and his sapper pigs. He has also linked to an article about Zin by Jeanette Townsend at MAIC, and the London Imperial War Museum's exhibition Animals at War.

Other animals used by armies around the world throughout history are, for instance, horses, camels, donkeys, mules and elephants (cavalry and transport); pigeons (messengers); dogs (messengers and a variety of life-saving missions); rats (detecting mines); dolphins and sea lions (detecting mines and other objects under water).

Ambient pigs

This is the back cover of the record "Pig" by Stephen Ugo Rosen, "a collection of 9 'dirty' ambient tracks".

"The term 'dirty' is used here because ambient music has a reputation for being 'pure' or lofty in many respects and this collection deliberately attempts to throw the atmospheres down in the mud."

Of course, what is a better symbol for dirtiness than pigs forced to live in such a cramped space that they have no chance of keeping themselves clean?

Placing a naked human among them (with some chains across his shoulders for potential kinkiness/fanservice) puts the plight of pigs raised for meat in a whole new light, because they look so very similar.
Humans get into conditions like this when imprisoned in 'inhumane' conditions in cramped cells with no access to toilets, while such conditions are the norm for most pigs raised for meat. (Sows in factory farms, who spend most of their lives in "gestation crates" - outlawed in the EU and some US states - and give birth and nurse their piglets in "farrowing crates" can't even turn around.)

Dead corpse diesel

BBC News puts it this way: "A solution for the world's energy crisis may come in the form of a pig."

"American oil company ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods, the world's biggest meat producer, have announced that they will produce diesel from pork fat.
Cows and chickens will also be transformed to power motor vehicles.
The companies say that this renewable source of energy will be cleaner than conventional diesel. It is hoped that it will be available at petrol stations by the end of the year."

The animal diesel will, according to Geoff Webster, who is managing the scheme for Tyson Foods, not come from animals processed solely for diesel, but it will be produced from "waste", i.e. the remains of the animals that are not used for meat products. Animal fat and "other waxy waste" is nowadays usually used as ingredients for soap, cosmetics and pet food.
Webster also argues that this solution is more environment-friendly than biofuel made from specially grown grain: "We feel that it is a huge step forward as opposed to taking grains which are needed for food around the world and turning those in to [sic] fuel."

But when the diesel is produced it will be "pumped into a network and mixed with other kinds of diesel", so it will be impossible to tell whether the diesel you use is made from animal fat or not. So, this will obviously be an issue for vegetarians and some religious groups.

Besides, while biodiesel, and especially this "animal waste diesel" is hailed as being so "environment-friendly", the point is missed that what actually causes more greenhouse gas emissions is not fossil fuels in cars, but cattle rearing. This is clearly stated in a recent report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

While I do agree that any form of "waste" should be reused in some way, it is rather uninformed to hail animal diesel as The Big Solution For The World's Energy Crisis.

I would say it would be wiser to make efforts to reduce our squanderous energy consumption, by making the things we use more efficient, but also by abstaining from many things that are not really necessary (city jeeps, anyone?). And while a lot of focus is put on the indivudual consumer when it comes to "living more environment-friendly", one should not forget that it's the big industries that cause the most environmental damage. Not least the meat, egg and milk industry with its factory farms.

But, regarding the use of animal waste for diesel - why not waste from humans? For instance, the plastic surgery industry certainly must produce a fair lot of human waste. And what about all the dead human corpses overcrowding our cemeteries, using up excessive amounts of energy being burned to ashes? Wouldn't it be better to turn grandpa into biodiesel, instead?

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Kosher v. Porcine - yiddish influences on legal slang and the average pork jokes

In the article Lawsuit, Shmawsuit, Judge Alex Kozinski & Eugene Volokh argue that the influence of Yiddish has dramatically increased in legal slang since 1980. As for the word 'kosher', they write:

"But it’s clear that 'kosher' is used figuratively in quite a few cases, from United States v. Erwin’s insistence that the law 'tell the felon point blank that weapons are not kosher' to Texas Pig Stands, Inc. v. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc., which concludes that 'though not entirely kosher, Hard Rock’s actions were not ... swinish.' Pig Stands is somewhat atypical, though, as its reference to 'kosher' is just one in a series of pork jokes."

Sugar Mountain Farm - raising pigs naturally on pasture

After the previous posts, here is something more positive. Walter Jeffries on Sugar Mountain Farm, Vermont, explains in a very down to earth way why pasturing pigs is actually much more economical and less work-intensive when you keep them for meat.

"Pasturing the pigs is the easiest, cheapest, least smelly way to do it. And I think the pigs are a lot healthier and happier for it."

In two other posts, he gives his view on castration:

"I do not like castrating piglets. Neither does my wife or son like helping. It is not a pleasant task. It is even less pleasant for the piglets. There is a fair bit of research that suggests that castration is not necessary for boars that are slaughtered before age six months. I have written about this before including links to the research articles. Unfortunately it is traditional and customers want it."

In one of the posts he expresses concern that animal rights movements like PETA ("fanatical anti-farming groups", in his words) will "use" what he says. I'm not fanatically anti-farming, but I think that if you eat pigs, you should at least treat them well.

The rest of the Sugar Mountain Farm blog is also very interesting reading.

Pet pig factories part II

I wrote an E-mail to the breeder mentioned in the entry below and asked a couple of composed and friendly questions. She only answered to one of the questions:

> My pig didn't
> have his teeth clipped, and I don't know of any other pet pigs in my
> area that have had it done. Why do you do it?

(That's the whole E-mail.) "It doesn't bother them" ... Right. And how come pigs have survived and bred in the wild for thousands of years and been safe and just fine with their teeth intact ...?
Also, if you feel your arguments aren't enough, maybe caps lock will help the message get through.

The breeder's name is Vickie Barrow, and the business is "Best Little Potbelly Pig House in Texas". I also found this interesting entry in a discussion forum.

Since pigs raised for the meat industry are normally so abused, it would seem difficult to make any case against her and other breeders like her. All I as a normal person can do is say: Do not get involved with people like her.

But actually, at least in European legislation clipping of teeth is strongly discouraged, as described in this publication by the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority:

"In 1997 the EU Scientific Veterinary Committee recommended grinding or leaving the teeth intact rather than clipping. This report formed the basis for Commission Directive 2001/93/EC, which was adopted into law in November 2001. In earlier drafts of this legislation teeth clipping was banned but the Directive now allows both clipping and grinding in limited circumstances. The procedures can only be carried out where “there is evidence that injuries to sows’ teats or to other pigs’ ears or tails have occurred”. In addition “before carrying out these procedures, other measures shall be taken to prevent tail-biting and other vices”. Hence, all forms of tooth resection are strongly discouraged and in the future teeth clipping may be banned."

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Pet pig factories and sanctuaries for the abandoned and abused

On this blog, I'm experimenting a bit with whether it might actually be possible to earn anything with Google AdSense. But with pigs as a theme, it's a constant battle to filter out ads for businesses that I consider abusive. That includes most websites related to the meat industry and hunting tourism, but today I also seem to have been advertising for an irresponsible pet potbellied pig breeder/factory.

Their ad says, "extra tiny - beautiful colours - ship worldwide", and on the website to which it points there are pictures of tiny piglets and below them links that say "add to cart" (with the note "pigs in picture are not the pigs you will receive - just examples").
The pictures on the site, with just one exception, though I'm not quite sure about that one either, all show pictures of tiny piglets, not full-grown pigs - although it's with the full-grown ones you will spend the most of your life.

Under "Satisfied customers around the world", it says, "I have shipped piggers all over the U.S. including HAWAII and all over the world to JAPAN, EUROPE & Alaska." What kind of person gets a pet transported such a long way, instead of getting a friend closer to home? Won't the pig be traumatized by the long transport?
And: "4 other Japanese men flew over here just to see my piggers! I took them to other breeders' farms to see other potbelly pigs, but they didn't want theirs - they wanted mine because of the small size & pug noses. I know they will be taken care of, they bought two of them from me two years ago & still have them, but wanted more of my little darlings." - Wow, they actually still have the pigs they bought from you two years ago? Is that enough to say they will be taken care of? Talk about low standards.

The breeder does seem to have some sort of resposibility, as she has an "emergency helpline", a phone number you can call 24/7 if you have 'problems' with your pig. She also guarantees that if "for any reason you need to get rid of your pigger, even years from when you bought it I will take it back, and if there is something wrong with it (health wise, genetically) I will give your money back."

But overall, the piglets she breeds are spoken of as goods or toys to buy and play with, because "they are so funny, entertaining & sweet". Not a word about how sensitive pigs are, how much responsibility it takes to keep a pig (or any other animal), how tricky they can be to train and live with, as they are more intelligent than dogs and can easily start manipulating humans (and so can dogs, but pigs can outsmart stupid and inconsequent humans even easier), or wrecking your house and garden out of boredom or frustration.

And another VERY alarming thing is that she states: "I clip their teeth [...] at 1 day old." WHY????
Clipping teeth is a common practise in factory farming, because it "reduces injuries" from fighting and tail-biting (which is a result of the enormous psychological stress of living in terribly cramped, noisy and dirty conditions in factory farms). Here is a report from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia that has come to the conclusion that even in factory farms, tooth clipping is not really necessary. And here is a BBC article about a farm with free-ranging pigs, where the pigs don't need to have their teeth clipped. Why on earth would pet pigs need to have their teeth clipped?!

I probably couldn't ever breed any animals commercially, because for one thing I think it's unethical, with so many pets abandoned on the streets or in shelters all over the world by irresponsible 'owners', and for another I would live in constant horror about the possibility that the new owners of my little babies would treat them wrong.

If you do know that you can handle a pig and take full responsibility for it, are able to care for it, love it and be consequent and fair to it, you should consider adopting it from a shelter or sanctuary. You should definitely NOT buy it from breeders like this, who treat pigs like toys or objects!

Here is a list of a few sanctuaries and shelters for pigs (not all of them have pigs for adoption, but they treat the pigs they care for with respect and as individuals, something everyone can learn something from):

Pigs, a sanctuary
Ironwood Pig Sanctuary
Pigs Peace Sanctuary
Shepherd's Green Sanctuary
Pig Pals Sanctuary
Belly Draggers Ranch

Hearts on Noses

Farm Animal Rescue

Schutzengel für Tiere

These are just a few. Sadly, there are many more, as all too many people abandon their 'pets' after getting them without realising what it means to care for a pig.

Model + Pig

When researching one subject, I keep coming across something else I want to mention.

A couple of years back, Sisley had an advertisement campaign that featured a model getting friendly with a pig:

In the blog g.o.r.i.l.l.a./livingfromlove, based in Brussels, the author asks the question:

"For example if you are one of countless Muslims who live near this advertisement in central Brussels, how do you handle its challenge to your cultural preferences?"

Figure that pigs are actually very nice animals, and that the religious ban on eating pork could actually have more to do with them being too human-like to be eaten than them being "filthy" (as the only reason why they might be 'filthy' is that humans keep them in filthy conditions)?

Well, a corporation like Sisley might not be the best advocate for that kind of revolution of the mind, but a girl can dream, can't she ...?

Pig baskets

I was randomly googling "pig biscuits" trying to make myself feel good looking at pig-shaped cookies (I seem to have gotten a slight flu). But the subject of pigs is, as always, ambiguous ...

I came across the blog of Singaporean dimsumdolly. She writes at one point about sweet mid-autumn delights, such as mooncakes. Leftover dough from mooncakes is used to make another kind of pastry:

"In order not to waste the dough, the bakeries make it into shapes of mini piglets and place them in these baskets. It was said that in the olden days in China, these "Zhu Long" (猪笼 pig baskets) made of bamboo were used to drown adulterous couples. The villagers would place the adulterous pair in a basket each and throw them into the sea."

A harsh tradition from harsh times, but these "pig baskets" are in fact a horrible way of transporting live pigs that seems to be pretty common in East Asia even today, though nowadays the baskets are not always made of bamboo. If you can handle it, here is a picture of the practise, and here another one (in Vietnam). The pigs are indeed alive - when they are dead no baskets are used. (Read more about livestock transport in Asia and the Pacific in Guidelines for Humane Handling, Transport and Slaughter of Livestock by the Asia/Pacific regional office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.)

Of course, it should go without saying that the transport of pigs in the meat industry of other parts of the world is usually not much more humane.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Breastfeeding pigs

Tori Amos (left) has appeared breastfeeding a piglet on the album sleeve of her record Boys for Pele (about which she talks a bit in this interview), alienating hundreds of "fans" (not true fans, I guess) and apparently shocking the hell out of bigot America.

Breastfeeding pigs is in fact something fairly normal among certain tribes in New Guinea.

But there, it's not really anything more eyebrow-raising than "a low-tech version of U.S. sheep ranchers bottle-feeding orphaned lambs", as's article on pigs puts it. Taking care of the pigs, the only domesticated animals they have, is one of the main tasks of traditional New Guinean women.

The traditional society in this area doesn't have that much equality between the sexes. In Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference (1976) - from where also the black and white photograph below right is taken, it is written in the section about common legal problems for women in Papua New Guinea:

"[Wives] were expected to work long hours in the gardens, then walk home carrying huge loads of firewood and food, then go to the river for water, then cook dinner - and through it all, tend the children. While they did all this work, the men occassionally hunted or fished - or mostly sat under the trees and 'protected' the women from enemy attacks."

As for pigs,

"Women did all the work of caring for pigs - even breast-feeding sick piglets - but their husbands owned them and decided when they would be traded, killed for a feast or given to someone else."

A normal day for traditional New Guinean women might look like Neil Nightingale describes it:

"Each day they take the animals to the gardens and tether them close by. If they are constructing new sweet potato mounds the women allow the pigs to root around in the ground they are about to prepare. In this way the pigs get to feed off any remaining sweet potato tubers while helping the women by churning the soil. In the evening the pigs accompany the women back to their homes. Some spend the night in specially built sties; others sleep in the same huts as the women and their children. While food is prepared for the evening meal the animals are thrown scraps and even whole sweet potato tubers."

Women and pigs have a fairly close relationship:

"The pigs often have names and are treated as part of the family, being stroked, fondled, and gently spoken to as the children prepare for bed.
By tickling their udders and imitating the action of a suckling piglet females can be encouraged to lie down quietly on their side to be gently de-ticked."

In the last sentence it becomes obvious that Nightingale doesn't know very much about pigs, as he explains the pigs' lying down on their side when they get their tummies rubbed as some kind of mechanical reaction to the feeling you get from suckling piglets. Mind you, also a barrow or boar will lie down on his side when he gets his tummy rubbed, simply because it feels good.

The New Guinean pigs, though seemingly treated like pets in our culture, will eventually be killed, but, again, not like regular food animals in Western culture.

As Joyce Kilmer writes,

"Pigs are the only domesticated animals and their value in this culture is a difficult concept to grasp. Although nurtured by women, they are the most important measurement of a man's solvency."

Pigs have great economical, political and mystical importance. They are used to buy brides, sacrificed to appease ancestral spirits and to pay compensation for killing members of another tribe (Nightingale describes how he witnessed about twenty pigs and the equivalent of a thousand UK pounds in cash being handed over as part payment of a large debt for the killing of one man), and in many other important ceremonies. In some parts, "huge pig-giving festivals" are held once every few years, in order to "impress neighbours".


Alison Scott has on her blog mentioned baking "Cheesy Orange Pigs". If you scroll down the page to the comments, she will share the recipe ...

Damn, I should really try to find the photos of the pig-shaped imo-mochi (potato mochi) I made once. They looked so cute frying in the oil.

Under Milk Wood

"The sunny slow lulling afternoon yawns and moons through the dozy town. The sea lolls, laps and idles in, with fishes sleeping in its lap. The meadows still as Sunday, the shut-eye tasselled bulls, the goat-and-daisy dingles, nap happy and lazy. The dumb duck-ponds snooze. Clouds sag and pillow on Llaregyb Hill. Pigs grunt in a wet wallow-bath, and smile as they snort and dream. They dream of the acorned swill of the world, the rooting for pig-fruit, the bagpipe dugs of the mother sow, the squeal and snuffle of yesses of the women pigs in rut. They mud-bask and snout in the pig-loving sun; their tails curl; they rollick and slobber and snore to deep, smug, after-swill sleep. Donkeys angelically drowse on Donkey Down."

Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood - A Play for Voices

Read the whole text at Project Gutenberg, or, even better, buy the book or borrow it from your local library.
I read it in high school, and it made a deep impression on me, as did a collection of short stories by Dylan Thomas as I read them during my early university years. I had forgotten about this part with the pigs, though, until I came across a quote from it on (Yes, it's exactly what you think - natural fertilizer made from piggy excrements. But the recipe on their site for "Piggy Poop Tea" is NOT what you think.)

Friday, 6 April 2007

Pig doodlings

This seems to be the day for not very serious posts to this blog.
Here are some pigs I doodled when I had a bit of gouache paint left:

(Click to see them big)

Pig pie #3

I don't know where this comes from originally, because I've only found it randomly linked to in discussion forums and such. But it's another pig pie!

Kind of flat.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Pugna Porcorum

Pugna Porcorum ("The Battle of the Pigs") was written around 1530 by the domenican monk Johannes Leo Placentius from Liège, under the pseudonym "Publius Porcius, Poet". It is a great masterpiece of Latin-language alliteration. In its 253 hexameters, every word begins with 'p'.

The poem is composed in a style called ‘grotesque’ or ‘Macaronic’ verse, a burlesque form in which two or more languages are mixed. In Pugna Porcorum, Placentius adds Latin endings to words of his local language, and uses them in Latin constructions.

Apparently, it often appears in a compilation of "risqué and bawdy tales, macaronic verse, student drama, and nonsense writings on the subjects of sex, food, wine, women, history, religion, science and the medical and legal professions".

When I studied Latin in secondary school, I waited in vain for a chance to research it, and now I've forgotten too much of my Latin to understand very much of it without tedious dictionary wrestling.

It seems hardly any other people on teh Internets have read and understood it, either, because I can't find any reviews of it that would say anything about the plot. Well, it's probably something nasty, anyway ...

Read the whole poem on Mori's Humor Page.

Porcopolis has some illustrations to the work.

Thursday, 29 March 2007


The Japanese word for "baby wild boar" is "uribô". That literally means "melon-boy". It comes from the fact that baby wild pigs are striped ... like melons.

Melon-boys at play. (Picture from Ino-Park ...)

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Henrik Vibskov's lovely piggy scarves

Fashion designer Henrik Vibskov has used his famous "piggy" pattern on various pieces of garments - from elegant suits to T-shirts, and also for a series of men's scarves clearly inspired by keffiyehs/shemaghs:

(Images found randomly on the net)

They are hailed in burshuy blogs and discussion forums - "finally we can wear those great-looking Arab scarves without making the wrong political statement!" - and only the most hypocritical pretentiously PC wannabe-leftist people and your average Zionists can consider calling them offensive. Because they're cute.

If you would consider paying 108 Euro for a scarf, you can get one from Très Bien Shop (based in Sweden, shipping worldwide). They have the red and white and the red and black varieties.

They used to have the one in blue and black, as well, though it's not very well matched in the picture on the left.

Even better, you might consider commissioning my mum to weave by hand a similar, but different, even nicer and totally unique scarf with a pig pattern (or any pattern you like). At least I am considering it ...