Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disappearance of Amber Room

The Amber Room (In English sometimes known as Amber Chamber, German: Bernsteinzimmer) in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Due to its singular beauty, it was sometimes dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Before it was lost, the original Amber Room represented a joint effort of German and Russian craftsmen. Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701 to 1709 in Prussia. The room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram and remained at Charlottenburg Palace until 1716 when it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire. In Russia it was expanded and after several renovations, it covered more than 55 square meters and contained over six tons of amber. The Amber Room was looted during World War II by Nazi Germany and brought to Königsberg. Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war.

In 1979 efforts began to rebuild the Amber room at Tsarskoye Selo. In 2003, after decades of work by Russian craftsmen, financed by donations from Germany, the reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in the Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The Baltic region is known to contain huge deposits of amber. In fact, some estimates claim up to 80% of the world’s supply of the fossilized tree resin is located there. Its warm, golden glow is prized by artists and collectors alike. The highest quality of amber has been used for ornamental and jewelry production since Neolithic times.

Perhaps the best known and inspired use of amber was the creation of the Amber Room in 1709 by designer Andreas Schluter and amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram.

Upon completion, the Amber Room was proudly displayed at the Charlottenberg Palace in Prussia. It was considered a true masterpiece. During a visit to Prussia in 1712, Czar Peter the Great of Russia confided in King Friedrich Wilhelm I on how much he adored this stunning room. In order to cement an alliance against Sweden, King Wilhelm I presented the Amber Room as a gift to Czar Peter the Great. The royal gift was shipped over water to Russia in 18 large boxes in 1716.

Once in Russia, the Amber Room was further built upon and renovated. In its final form in 1763, the Amber Room spanned 55 meters and contained over six tons of amber. It was located in the Catherine Palace of St. Petersburg and admired by the lucky few who were able to see it. The feeling one would get visiting the Amber Room can be described as the following:

“When the daylight was shining through the wide windows, it replaced hundreds of lighting candles and created thousands of reflections in the mirrors. This light made multicolored Amber walls shine more beautiful than gold and created a deeply lasting impression never forgotten by any visitor.”

Most words cannot describe the awe someone would feel while in this room. In fact, many considered the Amber Room the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. 

Disappearance of Amber Room

Bernardo Vazquez: The Vanishing Sorceror

Twenty-year-old Bernardo Vazquez was obsessed with the unknown and black magic, as well as getting rich. People who knew him in San Juan, Puerto Rico say he may have succeeded with a bizarre experiment that made him invisible. After consulting his books on the occult, he one day told his mother that he had learned how to become invisible - through a strange ritual involving a black cat, wood from an old coffin and a tin can. He believed that by boiling the cat and using a resulting bone to place under his tongue he could be invisible at will.

One night be barricaded himself in his room at the back of the house to carry out the ritual. His mother became concerned when he never came out, and she called the authorities. They had to break into his room where they found the disturbing remnants of his ritual - the burned wood and a disemboweled black cat. But Bernardo was nowhere to be found. Did he indeed become invisible... or did he vanish into the unknown?

Bernardo Vazquez was a young man, around 20 years old. That was way back during the Depression in 1936. We used to live on Fernandez Juncos Avenue in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At that time I was nine years old and even then I was very inquisitive over anything that had to do with the unknown. Mama shared the same predilection and she used to explain in detail whatever situation occurred that was hard for me to understand.

When Bernardo started coming around during the afternoon hours, telling his mystery tales, Mama would let me stay so I could enjoy the stories. Many years later, after hearing numerous frightening tales, I realize how dreadful his confessions really were.

The young man was always in a hurry, and in his mind the most important wish was to obtain immeasurable riches-with no concern as to how he obtained them. He was an avid reader, especially books on black magic. His appearance was anemic and his eyes had a penetrating look. We never heard him talk about his family, and the only person he talked to in our neighborhood was Mama. It was not easy for him to get familiar and he waited some time to trust Mama with his secrets.

With his mysterious look and his whispered voice, Bernardo intrigued anyone he talked to. Mama and I would listen to him as if we were in a hypnotic trance, and when she thought that she had heard of all Bernardo’s schemes and everything related to the unknown, out of nowhere he bewildered us with something different. Sometimes when he left late in the afternoon he gave us a ceremonial farewell, leaving us with something new:

“I will come back tomorrow with news of my new ‘job.’ Now I must leave-it is getting late and the cemeteries are closed by five o’clock.”

Mama felt sorry for him. She did not agree with his beliefs, and always dismissed him with a blessing. Sometimes, she advised him of the danger that he was getting himself into. “A lot of people call the diablo, Bernardo,” she said, “but only a few are brave enough to welcome him.”

Those were words with light. Bernardo never knew the terrible destiny that was waiting for him. He asked to be rich at all risks, even trading his life for it. He wanted power, without giving any care as to whom he was dealing with. 

Read more on  The Vanishing Sorceror

Green children of Woolpit

The green children of Woolpit reportedly appeared in the village of Woolpit in Suffolk, England, some time in the 12th century, perhaps during the reign of King Stephen. The children, brother and sister, were of generally normal appearance except for the green colour of their skin. They spoke in an unknown language, and the only food they would eat was green beans. Eventually they learned to eat other food and lost their green pallor, but the boy was sickly and died soon after the children were baptised. The girl adjusted to her new life, but she was considered to be "rather loose and wanton in her conduct". After she learned to speak English the girl explained that she and her brother had come from St Martin's Land, an underground world whose inhabitants are green.

The only near-contemporary accounts are contained in Ralph of Coggeshall's Chronicum Anglicanum and William of Newburgh's Historia rerum Anglicarum, written in about 1189 and 1220 respectively. Between then and their rediscovery in the mid-19th century, the green children seem to surface only in Bishop Francis Godwin's fantastical The Man in the Moone, in which William of Newburgh's account is reported.

Two approaches have dominated explanations of the story of the green children: that it is a typical folk tale describing an imaginary encounter with the inhabitants of another world, perhaps one beneath our feet or even extraterrestrial, or it is a garbled account of a historical event. The story was praised as an ideal fantasy by the English anarchist poet and critic Herbert Read in his English Prose Style, published in 1931. It provided the inspiration for his only novel, The Green Child, written in 1934.


The village of Woolpit is in the county of Suffolk, East Anglia, about 7 miles (11 km) east of the town of Bury St Edmunds. During the Middle Ages it belonged to the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, and was part of one of the most densely populated areas in rural England. Two writers, Ralph of Coggeshall (died c. 1226) and William of Newburgh (c. 1136–1198), reported on the sudden and unexplained arrival in the village of two green children during one summer in the 12th century. Ralph was the abbot of a Cistercian monastery at Coggeshall, about 26 miles (42 km) south of Woolpit. William was a canon at the Augustinian Newburgh Priory, far to the north in Yorkshire. William states that the account given in his Historia rerum Anglicarum (c. 1189) is based on "reports from a number of trustworthy sources"; Ralph's account in his Chronicum Anglicanum, written some time during the 1220s, incorporates information from Sir Richard de Calne of Wykes, who reportedly gave the green children refuge in his manor, 6 miles (9.7 km) to the north of Woolpit. The accounts given by the two authors differ in some details.


One day at harvest time, according to William of Newburgh during the reign of King Stephen (1135–1154), the villagers of Woolpit discovered two children, a brother and sister, beside one of the wolf pits that gave the village its name. Their skin was green, they spoke an unknown language, and their clothing was unfamiliar. Ralph reports that the children were taken to the home of Richard de Calne. Ralph and William agree that the pair refused all food for several days until they came across some green beans, which they consumed eagerly. The children gradually adapted to normal food and in time lost their green colour. The boy, who appeared to be the younger of the two, became sickly and died shortly after he and his sister were baptised.

After learning to speak English the children – Ralph says just the surviving girl – explained that they came from a land where the sun never shone, and the light was like twilight. William says the children called their home St Martin's Land; Ralph adds that everything there was green. According to William the children were unable to account for their arrival in Woolpit; they had been herding their father's cattle when they heard a loud noise (according to William, the bells of Bury St Edmunds) and suddenly found themselves by the wolf pit where they were found. Ralph says that they had become lost when they followed the cattle into a cave, and after being guided by the sound of bells eventually emerged into our land.

According to Ralph the girl was employed as a servant in Richard de Calne's household for many years, where she was considered to be "very wanton and impudent". She eventually married a man from King's Lynn, about 40 miles (64 km) from Woolpit, where Ralph said she was still living shortly before he wrote. Based on his research into Richard de Calne's family history the astronomer and writer Duncan Lunan has concluded that the girl was given the name "Agnes", and that she married a royal official named Richard Barre. 

Read more on  Green children of Woolpit


Related Posts with Thumbnails