Maramadi – The Famous Bull Race of Kerala

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The most famous traditional game involving bulls is Spanish bullfighting, but the people of Kerala, India, have come up with a way celebration that doesn’t involve torturing and killing poor animals. It’s called Maramadi, and it’s held every year, in the post-harvest season.

Maramadi is essentially a bull racing event, only instead of a track, it takes place in flooded rice fields, which makes it infinitely more entertaining for the crowds watching from the sidelines. In preparation for the event, the freshly ploughed fields are filled with water, thus ensuring that every competing team makes a big splash for the audience. Although bulls are the main competitors in Maramadi, their human masters have the important role of guiding them during the race, making sure they don’t stray off the course before reaching the finish line. Each team consists of two bull and three guides, who have to keep up with the animals if they want a shot at wining. That of course takes good speed perfect balance.

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Iglu Dorf – Living Like an Eskimo in a Luxury Igloo Village

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Looks like Igloo hotels are becoming more and more popular these days. A few weeks ago we wrote about the Igloo Village in Finland, and now we introduce you to Iglu-Dorf, a concept hotel that offers igloo villages in seven locations in Andorra, Switzerland and Austria. What’s different about these igloos is the fact that they are rebuilt every year, using 3,000 tons of snow from the Pyrenees and the Alps.

The history of Iglu-Dorf began with one extreme skateboarder’s crazy idea to spend the night in an igloo so he could be the first on the slopes the next day. Apparently being first is a matter of great pride for skateboarders, so he decided to build himself an igloo to make sure no one beat him to that first ride down the mountain. The next day he looked like the happiest person alive, and when someone asked him why he had a big smile on his face, he just pointed at the mountain and said “You see that line over there? That was me.” More and more people followed his example and asked to sleep in his igloo. The next season he built two igloos, then three, and that’s how the Iglu-Dorf igloo villages were born. Now the company builds 12 of them every year, in different locations around Europe.

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La Maison a Vaisselle Cassee – Outsider Art in Louviers, France

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La Maison a Vaisselle Cassée or The Broken Crockery House, is a very special place located in Louviers, France. I took a look at a few pictures and couldn’t help being reminded of the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel. Of course, you can’t eat this one and there’s no evil witch living there.

This was the home of Robert Vasseur and his wife, who abandoned wallpaper and painstakingly decorated their home with mosaics made from broken crockery, seashells, twinkling china and glass. Born in 1908, Vasseur was a milk transporter and also worked in textiles. His strange passion for mosaic decoration started way back in 1952 when he first got the idea while doing repair work in his kitchen. He embellished an old cement kitchen sink with broken crockery mosaics and never looked back. Starting with that old sink, he expanded his idea to the interior of his house, the backyard, then the garden and later even the dog house. This went on for the next 50 years or so.

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Artist Makes Realistic-Looking Leaves from Human Hair

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Human hair is fast becoming one of the most popular mediums in the art world. We’ve seen everything from dresses made of hair and hair necklaces to insect sculptures made from human air. Now, we’ve discovered the intricate art of Jenine Shereos, who uses the dead protein to create tree leaves.

Leaves may not seem very special when you’re walking all over them, barely even noticing their presence, but if you take the time to pick one up and really look at it, you’ll notice each one has a unique and intricate veiny pattern that’s pretty tough to recreate. It was this delicate and detailed venation that inspired Jenine Shereos to create her awe-inspiring series of human hair leaves. She began by stitching strands of hair into a water-soluble backing material, making a tiny knot every time one strand of hair intersected another. This way, when the backing was dissolved, the leaf was able to hold its original shape. The artist says the whole process was meditative, as she found herself “lost in the detail of the small, organic microcosms that began taking shape.”

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Filipino Restaurant at the Foot of a Waterfall

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Located in the Quezon province of the Philippines, Villa Escudero is a nice hacienda-style resort with cozy rooms and an exotic atmosphere. But what brought its international fame is the waterfall restaurant that allows tourists to enjoy a nice meal right at the foot of a small waterfall.

In most cases, getting too close to a waterfall can prove deadly, but not at this particular restaurant, at Villa Escudero. Here, people are actually encouraged to take off their shoes and get as close to the falls as possible. Set right at the foot of Labasin Falls, this special place invites customers to taste popular Filipino dishes, while fresh spring water from the falls flows under and over their feet, making this an unforgettable experience. As you can imagine, it’s nowhere near as impressive as Niagara, but visitors who don’t mind getting their clothes wet can sit right under the rushing waterfall and get their pictures taken. Words just don’t do this fantastic tourist attraction justice, so I’ll let the photos and video do the talking.

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Italy’s Natural Cathedral Is Made of Growing Trees

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Located on the outskirts of Bergamo, at the foot of Monte Arena, the tree cathedral created by Italian artist Giuliano Mauri is one of the world’s most impressive example of organic architecture.

Giuliano Mauri created “natural architecture” by blending organic materials like trunks and branches with classic architectural elements, creating impressive large-scale edifices. In 2001, his love for nature inspired him to draw up the plans for a project that took his art to a whole new level and left the people of Bergamo stunned – a cathedral made only of trees. The artist envisioned a unique organic building desinged in such a way that the branches of the trees forming its pillars would extend and arch to become its roof and walls. Unfortunately, Mauri died unexpectedly in 2009, and never got to see his grand plan come to life, but as a homage to his life’s work, the project was initiated in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity.

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The Ghost-Like Smoke Paintings of Rob Tarbell

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Rob Tarbell has a very unique talent. By burning everyday objects under a paper canvas fixed on the ceiling of his studio, he is able to control the rising flow of smoke and create incredible works of art.

The artist first got the idea of using smoke as a medium for his art in 2007, and he quickly realized that in order to make it work, he needed to control the smoke, while letting it do what it does naturally. To him, that sounded a lot like what circus trainers do with wild animals, so this inspired him to use circus performances as the main subjects of his beautiful smoke paintings. Masterfully channeling the flow of smoke, Tarbell creates ghost-like figures, both animal and human performing circus acts, in a series entitled Smoke Rings. ”The performing animal images in the Smokes parallel the drawing process,” Rob says on his website. “The trainer must recognize and respect the innate nature of an animal when trying to modify its behavior to achieve a desired outcome: e.g. training a bear to dance or training a horse to walk upright. The same is true in working with smoke. The inherent properties of smoke must be respected, then permitted to – and yet discouraged from – acting naturally.”

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Coolest Finds of the Week #26

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South African Weathermen Could Face Jail Time for Wrong Forecasts (Yahoo)

Jaipur’s Painted Elephant Festival (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Spots Dead Mother’s Ghost in Guesthouse Photo (Metro)

MMO Game Wants to Break Record for Virtual Marriages (Geekosystem)

16 of the Smartest Children in History (Business Insider)

China’s Famous Salad Towers (The Consumerist)

Functional Bone Guillotine Model Made by Prisoner Awaiting Execution (Daily Mail)

India’s Incredible Hand-Drawn Movie Posters (Asia Obscura)

25 Beautifully-Colored Sea Slugs (Environmental Graffiti)

Man Sets New Record for Most Eyebrow Raises (Record Setter)

Incredible Fingerprint Paintings by Judith Braun

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New York-based artist, Judith Braun, creates giant symmetrical wall paintings, using only her fingertips as brushes. This would be difficult to do with one hand at a time, but Judith sometimes uses both hands at the same time.

As children, we all got our hands dirty then tried to use our fingers to draw, but I doubt any of our “masterpieces” looked anything like those of Judith Braun. By dipping her hands in charcoal, pastel and chalk, and using them as paintbrushes, Braun is able to create truly unique symmetrical works of art. Using her own special technique, she produces all kinds of abstract images, patterns and shapes.  “Abstraction keeps the images free to be anything, while the symmetry resolves that fluidity into something, like liquid energy crystallizing. This crystal metaphor is further reflected in the carbon medium that, under heat and pressure, becomes a diamond.  I like to think I’m drawing with diamond dust”, Judith Braun says about her art.

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Artist Disappears in the Background of Her Works

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Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes uses a mix of make-up, paint and costumes to make herself disappear in her own paintings. Like the real-life invisible man, Liu Bolin, she  is a master of blending-in the background.

Paredes explains her technique as a way of making herself part of the landscape ïn a quest of belonging”.  ”The theme behind all is re-location after displacement and migration and how one has to adjust in order to belong. Tough it is, but it has to be done, without forgetting our origin,” the artist explains. With the help of her assistants, she applies make-up and body paint, and sometimes slips into special suits to make herself a subject of her own artworks. Unlike human chameleons like Liu Bolin, Cecilia Paredes sometimes likes to let her presence get noticed by the viewer, by leaving her hair stand out and letting them see the whites of her eyes, like in the artwork below.

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Chara Sands – The Miniature Desert of Siberia

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If I showed you an image of desert sands set up against a background of snow-capped mountain peaks, your first word would probably be ‘Photoshoped’. That’s what I thought too, but such a place really does exist and it’s called Chara Sands.

There is really no end to nature’s mysteries and Chara Sands, in Siberia, is just one of them. Located in the Trans-Baikal, about  25 miles from the Kodar Glaciers and right next to the mountains, ice fields and blue lakes, the bright and yellow sand dune is hard to miss. At 10 km long and 5 km wide, the dunes are of varying heights. Some of the tallest ones are 15 to 30 meters high. Given the large volume of the loose and shifting sands, the place actually looks like a desert, although it is not. Spotting a desert-like terrain in the tundra region is nothing short of a miracle and a well-recognized one around the world. According to the Russian Geographical Society, “The contrasts seem impossible: as if an incredible open-air museum was set up, displaying natural curiosities of the north and the south next to each other.” They couldn’t have put it better.

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Creative Agency Creates Detailed Money Portraits

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Artists from Chinese creative agency Senseteam cut apart banknotes from various country and recomposed them as detailed portraits, in a series called Big Business 3.

‘Currency symbolizes the value of a nation and its position in the world,’ the designers say, so their portraits ’reflect the subtle relationships and influences across money, desire,
society, nations, and human beings.’ They also prove money can also be used for something much more meaningful than shopping and making bank deposits – in this case art and cultural statements. To create their colorful artworks, Senseteam members painstakingly cut banknotes into hundreds of strips and glued them together in the shape of intricate human portraits.

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Is This the World’s Worst Tattoo Artist?

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If you’ve ever wanted to sport one of those sloppy jail tattoos, but didn’t really want to go through the whole jail experience, we’ve got just the guy for you – he goes by “Synyster Ink” and he’s probably the world’s worst tattoo artist.

I’m still not sure if this guy is a genius or someone who’s hands should be tied behind his back so he doesn’t scar anymore gullible people. There are people who actually consider his work to be genuine art, but not too many. The majority of those who’ve seen Synyster Ink’s tattoos on Facebook thinks they’re absolute crap, and recommend he find a job at McDonald’s or Walmart, instead of tattooing. He’s a pretty resilient guy, though, as thousands of negative comments haven’t stopped him from “following his”dream and creating “original” permanent tattoos. There’s not a lot to say about a tattoo artist who apparently can’t even draw a straight line, except that he’s based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and that he found plenty of people naive enough to let him work his magic on their bodies. How this guy didn’t get hit with a lawsuit is beyond me.

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Woven Newspaper Portraits by Gugger Petter

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Most people look at old newspapers as trash, but for artist Gugger Petter it’s a challenging medium for which she has the utmost respect. Using  a special weaving technique, she’s able to take fragile newspapers and turned them into beautiful portraits.

Although she considers the informative purpose of the newspaper important, Petter has been fascinated with this unusual art medium because it presents her with a black/white/and limited color palette, which she has always preferred. In 1986, when she first arrived in California, she laid eyes on a stack of discarded newspapers yellowed by the sun, and found it very intriguing. From that day forth she started thinking about ways she could use this material in her art. She started by rolling newspapers into tubes and creating wall and floor sculptures, but after a couple of years she developed her weaving technique.

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Private Wojtek – The Soldier Bear Who Fought Nazis in WW2

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History, cinema, and books are replete with stories of animals displaying exemplary courage and loyalty. The tale of Private Wojtek, the soldier bear, is no different. In fact, it is nothing short of awe-inspiring, more so because it’s a true story.

The legend of Wojtek begins in 1942, when he was found in Iran by a local boy and traded for a few tins of food to soldiers of the Polish Army stationed nearby. The soldiers cared for the Syrian brown bear cub and fed him milk from empty vodka bottles, fruits, honey and marmalade. Over time though, he began imitating his caretakers, consuming beer and cigarettes. Of course, he ended up mostly chewing the cigarettes instead of smoking them. Soon, the endearing bear became an unofficial mascot of all the Polish units stationed in the area. He moved with the company to various countries.

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