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 ...

Monday, 26 March 2007

Ben and Orlando

The photographer Traer Scott has in his series Sentients portrayed humans and animals and the often deep emotional and psychological bond they share.

This picture is of Ben and Orlando:

Scott writes: "Orlando fell off a truck bound for the slaughterhouse when he was just a mere 200lb pig. He was taken to animal control and was going to be killed. A Massachusetts family rescued him and made a home for him on their farm. Orlando now weighs over 500lbs. The family's son Ben became very close with Orlando, sometimes when he was younger, the two would sleep together at night."

Visit his website for many more interesting photographs.

Culinary link 2

I found this more advanced variation on the "baked dough pig" on a Japanese blog:

Unfortunately I can't read much Japanese, except "buhibuhi" (oink oink), "raburii~!" (lovely) and "kobutachan" (little piglet), so I don't know what the filling is made of. But this blog has a lot of other stuff related to interesting food ...

BUTA = happiness

My sister was recently in Japan and took a picture of this advertisement.

It says:

"Drug store's. D.S.Club.
We very much enjoy[ed] relaxing in the serenity of mother nature.
Watching a happy BUTA hobble along the beach.
We immediately fell in love with the tropical island and the BUTA.
It happened in January 1985.
The BUTA is know[n] as a symbol of happiness.
"BUTA", the logo on our clothes, represents the happiness we feel in our hearts.
We hope to share this happiness with those who wear our clothes."

'Buta' is the Japanese word for pig.

Giant forest hogs

The giant forest hog, hylochoerus meinertzhageni, is a quite interesting species of wild pigs. Its measurements are as follows: length of the body - 155 to 180 cm, legth of the tail - 25 to 35 cm, height at the shoulder - 80 to 100 cm, body mass - 100 to 250 kg, diameter of snout disk - up to 13 cm. (Data from this Russian page.)

"Forest Hog social groups consist of one boar, one to four sows and their offspring. Other pigs usually do not allow a boar to join a family group apart from during the mating season. The effect of dominance hierachy was observed for both sexes on the following behaviours: leading the group, protection of the home range, protection of the sows against extra-group males and behaviour in presence of predators. The results reveal that Forest Hogs do not show any hierarchy within the group and all adult animals seem to be responsible for all group members. However, data suggests that there may be an alpha sow, who might be the centre of group coordination."

From "Zur Ökologie und Ethologie des Afrikanischen Riesenwaldschweines" by Sandra Fimpel - a very interesting thesis on a field study of giant forest hogs in Uganda. Even if you don't know German, it's definitely worth it to just look at the many photographs of the subjects of the study (not least the one of the piglet who "playfully nibbles at the boar's testicles" on page 58 ...).

The forest hog groups, as opposed to many other species of wild boars, have a "steady family boar", who is deeply involved in family life and plays with and cares for the piglets. This, Fimpel argues, will give him advantage in the eyes of the sows of the group when facing a strange boar interested in taking over his place, and it also gives him security and social contacts, besides the obvious possibility to pass on his genes.

Fimpel also studied the language of forest hogs, and classified at least 18 different "basic sounds": 5 contact sounds, 4 calling sounds, warning sound, alarm sound, greeting sound, frightened sound, repelling sound, calming sound, sleeping sound, fighting sound and curious sound. Besides that, she once recorded a long, deep "growl" of a boar that was inside some bushes with his group, but the meaning of this sound could not be determined ... I wish samples of the sounds would be available.

See also the chapter on giant forest hogs in the Pigs, Peccaries and Hippos Status Survey and Action Plan by Jean-Pierre d'Huart from IUCN.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The People vs. the Pig

One of the great wonders of the Internet is that you can find archived material from many parts of the world dating many years back. Something interesting I came across today is a transcript of the TV program "The Animal Attraction", aired on ABC TV in Australia on February 24, 2001.

Its fourth program - Animals on trial: The People vs. the Pig "takes us over to the dark side. Our relationships with other animals are not all sweetness and light. And over the centuries, we've come up with some truly bizarre attempts to justify our actions." This episode explores "the ethical complexity of our dependence on animals. We find out why animals were put on trial in the middle ages, what witchcraft had to do with pet ownership, and how pet keeping transformed our society."

The program gives an overview of the problematic relation between humans and animals in history, and how humans have dealed with the moral problem in relying on domesticated animals for their survival.

Jonica Newby: Our empathy problem magnified a thousand fold when we were joined by domestic animals and our entire economy became based on exploiting them.

James Serpell: We have to maintain a degree of separation, emotional separation, if you like, from these animals. We have to avoid getting too close, literally, too intimate, too involved, too knowledgable about the nature of that animal and its psychology and its feelings.


Jonica Newby: Humans face a dilemma that's not been faced by any other animal in the history of our world. Many animals are carnivores. But we're the only ones with the brainpower to sympathise with our victims. And to cope with being a sentient carnivore, we’ve resorted to all sorts of strategies. Where possible, we avoid responsibility for killing. Even abattoir workers subconsciously shift the blame.


James Serpell: We have this association in our minds of pigs being filthy creatures but, of course, how could they not really be filthy in the kinds of conditions we keep them in. So, there’s a great deal of misrepresentation going on there which, I think, just makes people feel better about the notion that pigs can be killed, you know, because pigs aren’t really worthy of moral concern.

Read the full transcript.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Festival of Lard Lovers - Lutsk, Ukraine

Every fall, the town Lutsk celebrates their pork production, in a "daring attempt at global branding" - "to once and for all convince everyone that lard is not food - it's the pride of the nation; to prove that lard is an excellent medical and prophylactic remedy; that Ukrainian traditions and customs are an excellent base for any modern cultural arrangement, and also a self-advertising for the nation as a valid member of the international community".
The slogan of the festival is "Lard-lovers of the world, unite!"

Last year, among the attractions of the festival was a beauty contest. Two dozens of pigs were dressed up like film stars: "The ladies were exceptionally beautiful - in little lace knickers, satin skirts, fishnet stockings, the little snouts lightly accentuated with lipstick. The cavaliers stern and elegant - in hats and vests."

The winner of the contest was the lovely sow Yulya (apparently named in honour of "the princess of the orange revolution" Yulya Timoshenko):

IotD has some more pictures.

Well, it's rather morbid, as even these most beautiful pigs will be slaughtered and eaten in the end ... It's like Two Thousand Maniacs, where some yankee tourists are lured into a small town in the deep South for a certain centennial celebration ... Aww, widdle piggy, you're so nice and cute and funny ... okay, let's kill you!

Pigs in Paradise

David Pacchioli writes about the quest of a few brave men to find the mysterious "pig half-man half woman" in the Republic of Vanuatu. In their quest they not only find themselves, but also delve into the mystery of intersexuality and maleness.

In Vanuatu, "pigs are a measure of wealth throughout most of the islands and are a part of many ceremonies. The most prized pig is the male with curled tusks. The upper canines are removed allowing the tusk to grow into a curl, a process taking up to 14 years. Pigs are used to pay for grade taking rights, penalty payment for breaking tabu, for trade and as gifts for marriage, death, circumcisions, initiations, etc. Ultimately the pigs are ritually killed by high ranking men and the curled tusk is worn by these men as a status symbol."

"Looking after your pig." From

Monday, 19 March 2007

Suicide bombers and suidae bummers

A number of factors appears to have led to why the pig is considered a "filthy animal" in Islam and Judaism. However, at the face of 'extreme situations', concessions can apparently be made from this position.

In the struggle to prevent suicide bombers in Israel, there have been propositions, approved by religious authorities, to form a force of 'guard pigs', that would function like guard dogs, sniffing at people crossing security checkpoints and detecting arms and explosives. Likewise, there have been ideas about placing pieces of pork in buses. The point would be that potential fundamentalist Muslim suicide bombers would change their mind about their mission, since if a Muslim touches a pig or pork, he/she can supposedly say goodbye to all those virgins that had been waiting in paradise.

But have the people behind these propositions considered what might happen if the suicide bomber is Christian, secular, or just not so very fundamentalist? And anyway, if they themselves are desperate enough to look away from religious prohibitions against pigs and pork, who says that the potential suicide bomber isn't?

Actually, the notion that a Muslim would be denied entrance to Heaven after touching parts of a pig is "ridiculous", according to Raeed Tayeh of the American Muslim Association in North America. In fact, it seems to be based on urban legends and false caricatures of muslim beliefs.

Culinary link: meat-stuffed pies that look like pigs

I came across Daria and Puneet Mehra's website by chance ... On their travels across the world, they spent New Year's 2003/2004 at Daria's brother's dacha outside St. Petersburg and ate some meat-stuffed pies that look like pigs:

What a lovely form! For veggie versions, I can think of various fillings: mushrooms (mixed with rice, maybe), various vegetables, potatoes, soy or quorn based meat substitute - or berries, jam, chocolate cream, ...

Year of the Boar

According to traditional Chinese astrology, this year - of the Golden Pig - is an extremely auspicious one. Many Chinese couples have planned their baby to be born during this year, since it is considered a very lucky year to be born in. People born under the sign of the pig are generally considered pleasant, friendly and reliable.
Shanghai Daily reports that "city officials are concerned that this baby boom will trigger a spate of generational social problems, such as over-crowding in schools and in the job markets, problems that could stay active for several decades."

The pig craze has been halted a bit by the state-run broadcaster, CCTV, where pigs apparently have been banned "out of consideration for the Muslim minorities". But, as the case with the surprise hit "the pig song" (widely spread on the Internet) shows, the government cannot totally control the people's love for pigs ...