Friday, February 8, 2019

An Uncanny X-Carnival

Color cover of Bizarre Adventures No. 27
Winter Carnival has once again arrived on campus, and with it come the usual events and sights that have become long-standing traditions here at Dartmouth over the years. This year's theme, "ICE AGE: 250 Years of Winter," is represented on the green by a large snow sculpture of what looks like, perhaps, a mammoth. It's hard to tell because of the rain that we've had here in Hanover this week. Over the decades, similar sculptures have captured the imaginations of carnival-goers and even a national audience. We've blogged before many times about Winter Carnival, and how it was so in the national zeitgeist in the early 20th century that at one point Hollywood made a movie about it.

First page of the story about Iceman and Winter Carnival, with Bobby Drake admiring a snow sculpture of Angel, an X-ManHowever, today, we want to move from big screen to small print and talk about a time when an X-Man attended Winter Carnival, way back in 1981. Bobby Drake, known more familiarly as the superhero Iceman, was one of the original five X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963. The perpetual youngster of the group, Iceman often was overshadowed by the other members of the team like Cyclops, Angel, or Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl or Phoenix). However, the young mutant comes into his own as a visiting sophomore at Dartmouth during Winter Carnival. Originally published in 1981, it was one of three X-Men-related stories in issue number 27 of Marvel's Bizarre Adventures magazine.

page from the Winter Carnival X-Man story, showing Iceman foiling the robbers' attempts to steal computer components from Dartmouth
In the story, Iceman stops thieves from stealing components of Dartmouth's state-of-the-art computer system, and then goes on to be the guest of honor at Winter Carnival, where he is finally and truly "in his element." Although Bizarre Adventures wasn't technically a comic book, the story was re-printed in 2016 in the back of a variant edition of Uncanny X-Men no. 600, which was donated to special collections by Dartmouth Library's Digital Humanities Librarian, Laura Braunstein.

To see both versions, come to special collections and ask for Rare PN6728.X2 U536 2016. Or, if you're in the area for Winter Carnival this year, check out our exhibit in the foyer called "Out in the Cold," installed in collaboration with the larger festivities occurring all over campus for the next few days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Manchurian Commendation

Image of the imperial seals of the seventh Emperor of the Qing Dynasty along with text in Chinese and Manchu from the center of the scroll
China is a country made up of more than fifty-five minority groups, with the Han people group comprising over 90% of the population. The Manchu people are the fourth largest minority in China and lend their name to the northeastern region known as Manchuria. While here in the United States, that word most likely brings to mind the title of a movie ("The Manchurian Candidate") and the relatively recent Cold War, The Manchu people have lived in northeast Asia for more than a thousand years. They were re-branded as "Manchus" in 1635 by an emperor of the Qing Dynasy, Hong Taiji; their language, also now known as Manchu and distinct from Mandarin Chinese, is still in existence today.

Here in Special Collections, we are fortunate to have a surviving example of that language in the
An excerpt of Manchu writing from the imperial scroll
form of an imperial decree issued in 1846 by the Daoguang Emperor, seventh emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Written on a silk scroll measuring seven feet long by thirteenth inches wide, the decree is written in both Manchu and Chinese characters and carries the official red chops, or stamped seals, of the Imperial Palace. The text is a posthumous honor awarded to the parents of Wang Fuh Tsai, who was the military governor of a territory in "Chinese Turkestan," or in what is now known as the Xinjiang province in northwest China. Given that the edict is written in both Manchu and Chinese, and it is addressed to Wang Fuh Tsai's parents, it's safe to assume that he was ethnically Manchu.

To see a beautiful example of calligraphic Manchu, and to examine the official seal of Imperial China during the 1800s, come to Rauner and ask for Codex 835654.