Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Huldremose Woman

Huldremose Woman, or Huldre Fen Woman, is a bog body recovered in 1879 from a peat bog near the village Ramten in Jutland. Analysis by carbon 14 dating revealed the woman had lived during the Iron Age, around 160 BCE to 340 CE. The mummified remains are exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark (in Copenhagen). The elaborate clothing worn by Huldremose Woman has been reconstructed and displayed at several museums.

Huldremose dress, front/wikipedia
Over 2000 years ago the body of a woman was put into an old peat bog in Huldremosen at Ramten village on Djursland, Jutland. The special oxygen poor conditions in the bog meant that the woman was preserved as a bog body with skin clothes and stomach contents. She was found in May 1879 by a worker, Niels Hansen, who was digging turf for a schoolteacher in Huldremose. In one meters depth he hit the body with his shovel and cut off its right hand. The schoolteacher was interested in archaeology and stopped the digging, and he kept guard by the body for the next couple of days until the district-medical from Grenaa arrived with a pharmacist and a police chief. The first theory was that the body had been the victim of a crime. At that time there was little knowledge about how to handle a situation like this, and the body of the woman was brought to the nearest farm where she was undressed and got a good bath! In connnection to this cleaning her hair fell off.  The criminal proceedings were given up and the body of the mysterious woman was buried in the church yard by the parish church Ørum nearby.

Huldremose woman, wikipedia
The doctor washed her clothes and dried them in his yard - and he wrote to the National Museum in Copenhagen from where they sent a telegram that they wanted both the body of the woman and her clothes - so the body was dug up and sent with her clothes on steamship to Copenhagen. In spite of the rough treatment of the 2000 year old clothes they hadn't suffered any damage - and they belong to the best preserved Danish textiles from antiquity.   Like most mummies found in Denmark the woman from Huldremose was fully dressed. Her dress is incredibly well preserved although it is 2000 years old.

She was more than 40 years old when she was  placed in the bog which was a high age at that time, in fact an old woman of Iron Age. The find has brought nutrition to various discussions and interpretations during times. A possible interpretation is that she was killed and following this sacrificed in the bog.The body was found with the legs bent behind the back, with a nearly severed right arm. Supposedly the arm was damaged by a shovel during excavation. Apart from this, the corpse was well intact.The dead lay with head west. The body was identified as a grown woman, probably rather slender built. The left thighbone had been broken and grown crookedly. She must have been limping.  

spergula arvensis/ wikipedia

According to science exist many informations about what had happened to people who later became bog bodies. The stomach contents can reveal the person's meal before death. It is known from the Huldremose woman's stomach contents that her last meal was rough grinded ray with a big content of seeds from the weed spergel (spergula arvensis). In her stomach were also animal hairs and rests of animal tissue. This indicated that she also had meat in her dish.

She wore a dress with a checkered skirt and a checkered scarf in sheep wool and two skin capes. The skirt was held around the waist with a narrow leather strap woven into a waistband. The scarf was tied around her head and fastened under the left arm with a needle from a bird's bone. On the upper body she wore outermost a cape made from several dark brown sheep skin with a collar of light sheep skin, the curly fur turning out. Under this she wore another cape with the fur side inwards. This was made from 11 small dark lamb skin. The cape was well used and had 22 sewn on patches. They did not cover a hole but contained a finely made bone comb, a narrow blue hair band and a lether strap, all wrapped in a bladder. This was obviously not a pocket, since the patches had to be cut up to get out the things. The insewen things possibly functioned as  amulets.

Huldremose woman, exhibition, National Museum/ wikipedia
Around the woman's long red hair was bound a woolen strip, winded several times around her neck. around the neck she wore another woolen strip with two amber pearls.  An imprint upon her left hand revealed that she had worn a finger ring, but there is no trace of a ring today - it was probably removed in connection to the finding of the body in 1879. Deep inside she wore a cloth made of plant fibres, maybe nettle or flax. There are only a few traces of this on her skin and the main part of the material was decomposed in the bog. The checker of the skirt and the scarf was alternately light and dark wool, and the long stay in the bog made the fabric brown. Colour analyses have shown that the skirt originally was dyed blue and the scarf dyed red.

Huldremose, Djursland, photo:gb
When the Huldremose Woman was killed more than 2000 years ago and was put into a bog/moor at Djursland, the moors were important ressources for people of Iron Age. In the moors were dug turf which was used as a building material and as fuel. Some moors contained bog iron ore, a raw material, which after processing could be made into iron.  The moors had a great importance for the daily life,  but the moors and wet areas were also a gate between two worlds -  the world of humans and the world of the gods. Humans sacrificed to the gods by putting gifts down into the water. The gifts were killed livestock, clothes, jewelry, tools and clay pots filled with food. The sacrifical gifts were meant to secure a good and abundant harvest. The greatest sacrifice was another human.

Tollund man, photo: stigbachmannnielsen, Naturplan foto
It is not known what happened in connection to the death of the Huldremose woman. She was fully dressed, had a ring on her finger, amulettes in one skin cape and two amber pearls around her neck, so she was not robbed of her possesions by her killers. Across her breast was a staff of willow wood. These features more reminds about care for the dead like in a funeral and not about a simple getting rid of a body after a crime. Maybe she died as the part of a ritual and was then placed in a sacred moor. Or she had abused the laws and had to fine for this with her life. But her burial was not a usual burial like a funeral pyre or a burial service of the Iron Age people. 

Forensic analyses have shown that the Huldremose woman had got a violent cut in her right upper arm. The theory was earlier that the cut of the arm was the reason for her death, and that she died from blood loss. Later investigations could not verify this theory, and it is possible that the damage might have happened later, fx in the turf digging of the bog. While she was alive she broke her right leg, but this fracture healed before her death. Her hair was bound with a long woolen cord laid several times around her neck. There are no marks on the neck which might indicate strangulation. Maybe the cord had a symbolic meaning. Strangulated people are known from other Danish bog bodies, like the bodies from Elling and Borremose and the famous Tollund Man.

About one hundred Danish bog bodies are preserved up till today because of the special good preservation conditions in the peat bogs. The mummified bog bodies where skin, hair and stomach contents are preserved count about a fourth, while the rest of the bog bodies are only skeletal parts. The most well preserved bodies like the Huldremose woman,  the Grauballe man and the Tollund man are found in raised bogs, where the necessary sour and oxygen poor condition is present.

source: National Museum, museumsinspektør Flemming Kaul
source: wikipedia

photo: grethe bachmann/ stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto.
photo: wikipedia

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Dill / Dild - a useful and pretty spice herb

Anethum graveolens

Dill is an annual herb in the celery family apiaceae, and it is the only species in the genus Anethum. Dill is widely grown in Eurasia where its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavouring food. Dill is related to fennel and parsley and its leaves are very similar to fennel. The Danish name Dild comes from a Nordic word meaning pjalt (rag), which might indicate that the plant has a Nordic relation from origin, contrarily to all other spice- and kitchen herbs.

Dill originates from Central Asia and the plant grows wild in the Middle East. It was known in ancient Egypt, and from here it spread to Greece, Rome and the rest of Europe. Today dill is first of all used in northern, middle and eastern Europe while it used to a minimum in the Mediterranean.

Dill grows up to 40–60 cm with slender hollow stems and alternate, finely divided, softly delicate leaves.  The flowers are white to yellow, in small umbels. Fresh and dried dill leaves (sometimes called "dill weed" to distinguish it from dill seed) are widely used as herbs in Europe and Central Asia.


Dill is a commonly cultivated spice herb and medical plant. It is a magnificent  culinary spice and also used in tea. The young fresh leaves are used in salads and fish dishes and as a ganiture. Later in summer the ripe dill umbels are used as a spice in fx cucumber pickling. Like caraway, the fernlike leaves of dill are aromatic and are used to flavor many foods such as gravlax (cured salmon) and other fish dishes, borscht and other soups, as well as pickles. Dill is best when used fresh as it loses its flavour rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves retain their flavor relatively well for a few months.

Dill seeds, having a flavor similar to caraway but also resembling that of fresh or dried dill weed, is used as a spice. Dill oil  is extracted from the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant. The oil from the seeds is distilled and used in the manufacturing of soaps.

In central and eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Baltic states, Russia and Finland dill is a popular culinary herb, used in the kitchen along with chives or parsley. Fresh, finely cut dill leaves are used as topping in soups, especially the hot red borscht and the cold borsht mixed with curds, kefir, yoghurt, or sour cream, which is served during hot summer weather and is called okroshka. It is also popular in summer to drink fermented milk (curds, kefir, yoghurt, or buttermilk) mixed with dill (and sometimes other herbs).In Scandinavia dill is a common spice/kitchen herb.

In the same way, prepared dill is used as a topping for boiled potatoes covered with fresh butter – especially in summer when there are so-called "new", or young, potatoes. The dill leaves can be mixed with butter, making a dill butter, which can serve the same purpose.

The etheric oil is used in the perfume industry and in some liqueors.

Folk Medicine

Dill was recommended for breastfeeding women, since it stimulates the milch production and secures that the baby will get a better sleep. Dill seeds were often used as a laxative, and dill-water was drunk against nausea, acid reflux, flatulence and other stomach trouble. Henrik Smid warns against the use of dill since it makes people lazy and incapable of sex.  If the flower umbels were hung up by the bed they worked somnolent. Dill in oil was said to be effective against ear ache - and it was recommended as the best means against hickups. The etheric oil has a driving and calming effect. Abscesses from the plague were rubbed with dill.

Dill Snaps

The dill seeds were written in the pharmacopoeia in 1772.

Medicine for livestock:
Dill was used as a prevention against rinderpest. Calves with tympania were given dill-tea. Dill was also used in diseases of the horse.

A young girl should wear dill, when walking in the woods. At her wedding the bride should have dill seeds in her shoes, and the groom should have dill seeds in his pocket. This would make a happy wedding. Valborg-evening 30/4 or Midsummernight 24/6 the cattle was given dill with garlic as a protection against witchcraft. If the dill plant was placed upon the brewing tub the beer was not bewitched. On Christmas night dill and honey were given the cows as a protection against witchcraft. 


Dill has a long history and  is mentioned already ab. 1500 BC in the Egyptian papyrus-rolls . Dill was also used in the Roman Empire and is mentioned here in a collection of recipes Apicius from ca. year 400 BC. The Romans brought the plant with north - later it was also spread with the monks up to Scandinavia.

In Anglo Saxon England, as prescribed in Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England (also called Læceboc, many of whose recipes were borrowed from Greek medicinal texts), dill was used in many traditional medicines, including those against jaundice, headache, boils, lack of appetite, stomach problems, nausea, liver problems, and many other ills. Dill seeds can also be used to prepare herbal tea. In ancient Greece fragrance was made from the leaves of dill. Also, athletes used to spread essence of dill all over their body, as muscle toner.

In 1967 were at the market of Copenhagen sold 1.125.375 bundles of dill.

images from wikipedia 

Source: Klosterurter, Krydderurter i haven, Køkkenurter, Brøndegaard: Folk og flora. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt: The Kiss

Gustav Klimt (14 july 1862-6. february 1918) was an Austrian painter. He was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary, the second of seven children—three boys and four girls. His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt's younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt.

Klimt, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Klimt lived in poverty while attending the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied architectural painting until 1883. In 1877 his brother, Ernst, who, like his father, would become an engraver, also enrolled in the school. The two brothers and their friend, Franz Matsch, began working together and by 1880 they had received numerous commissions as a team they called the "Company of Artists". They also helped their teacher in painting murals in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in
Vienna.  Klimt began his professional career painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings on the Ringstrasse including a successful series of "Allegories and Emblems".

Pallas Athene or Minerva
Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Secession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group's periodical, Ver Sacrum("Sacred Spring"). He remained with the Secession until 1908. The goals of the group were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists, to bring the works of the best foreign artists to Vienna, and to publish its own magazine to showcase the work of members. The group's symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek  Goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

Klimt was one of the most prominent members of the Art Noveau movement in Vienna and he had an enormous importance to the following generation (like Oskar Kokoschka.) Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches and other objets d'art. Among the artists of the Vienna Secession, Klimt was the most influenced by Japanese art and its methods.

detail from Medicine, Hygeia
In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. The three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material, and were called pornographic. As a result, the paintings were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. All three paintings were destroyed by retreating SS forces in May 1945.

His Nuda Veritas (1899) defined his bid to further "shake up" the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad."

Klimt, landscape with birch trees
Beginning in the late 1890s he took annual summer holidays with the Flöge family on the shores of Attersee and painted many of his landscapes there. These landscapes constitute the only genre aside from figure painting that seriously interested Klimt. Klimt's Attersee paintings are of sufficient number and quality as to merit separate appreciation. Formally, the landscapes are characterized by the same refinement of design and emphatic patterning as the figural pieces. Deep space in the Attersee works is flattened so efficiently to a single plane, that it is believed that Klimt painted them by using a telescope

Nuda Veritas
In 1888 Klimt received the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria for his contributions to murals painted in the Burgtheater in Vienna. He also became an honorary member of the University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In 1892 Klimt's father and brother Ernst both died, and he had to assume financial responsibility for his father's and brother's families. The tragedies also affected his artistic vision and soon he would move towards a new personal style. Characteristic of his style at the end of the 19th century is the inclusion of Nuda Veritas(Naked Truth) as a symbolic figure in some of his works, including Ancient Greece and Egypt (1891), Pallas Athene (1898) and Nuda Veritas (1899). Historians believe that Klimt with the nuda veritas denounced both the policy of the Habsburgs and the Austrian society, which ignored all political and social problems of that time.

Klimt: Emilie Flöge
In the early 1890s Klimt met Austrian fashion Emilie Louise Flöge  (a sibling of his sister-in-law) who was to be his companion until the end of his life. His painting, The Kiss (1907–08), is thought to be an image of them as lovers. He designed many costumes she created and modeled in his works. During this period Klimt fathered at least fourteen children

In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven frieze for the Fourteenth Vienna Secessionist Exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger. The frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved, although it was not displayed again until 1986. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler.

Klimt: from Palais Stochlet

rips to Venice and Ravenna with their beautiful mosaics most likely inspired his gold technique and his Byzantine  imagery. He collaborated in 1904 with other artists on the Palais Stochlet, one of the grandest monuments of the Art Noveau age. Klimt's contributions to the dining room, including both Fulfillment and Expectation, were some of his finest decorative works.

In 1905, Klimt created a painted portrait of Margarete Wittgenstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein's sister , on the occasion of her marriage. Then, between 1907 and 1909, Klimt painted five canvases of society women wrapped in fur. His apparent love of costume is expressed in the many photographs of Flöge modeling clothing he had designed.

Klimt: Sonia Knips

Early in his career he was a successful painter of archictectural decorations in a conventionel manner but he developed a more personal style and his work became the subject of controversy especially caused by the paintings he completed around 1900 for the ceiling of the great hall of the University of Vienna,which were critisized as pornographic.

Klimt: Judith

He achieved a new success with the paintings of his golden phase . Klimt's 'Golden Phase' was marked by positive critical reaction and financial success. Many of his paintings from this period included gold leaf. Klimt had previously used gold in his Pallas Athene (1898) and Judith I (1901), although the works most popularly associated with this period are the Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I (1907) and The Kiss (1907–08).

In 1911 his painting Death and Life received first prize in the World Exhibitions in Rome.

Klimt's paintings have brought some of the highest prices recorded for individual works of art. In 2006, the 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch Bauer I,
Klimt: Adele Bloch-Bauer
was purchased for the Neue Galerie New York by Ronald Lauder, reportedly for US $135 million, surpassing Picasso's 1905 Boy with a Pipe (sold May 5, 2004 for $104 million). In spring 2006 the Adele Bloch-Bauer-painting was at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna where it was considered a central part of the National Cultural Heritage, but a court of arbitration decided that the painting of Adele Bloch Bauer belonged to her niece Maria Altmann, whose jewish family were deprived of the painting by the Nazis during WWII.

Klimt: Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter
On August 7, 2006, Christie's auction house announced it was handling the sale of the remaining four works by Klimt that were recovered by Maria Altmann and her co-heirs after their long legal battle against Austria . Maria Altmann's fight to regain her family's paintings has been the subject of a number of documentary films, including Adele's Wish. Her struggle also became the subject of the dramatic film The Woman in Gold, a movie inspired by Stealing Klimt, the documentary featuring Maria Altmann herself. The portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer II was sold at auction in November 2006 for $88 million, the third-highest priced piece of art at auction at the time. The Apple Tree I (ca. 1912) sold for $33 million, Birch Forest (1903) sold for $40.3 million, and Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter (1916) sold for $31 million. Collectively, the five restituted paintings netted more than $327 million. The painting Litzlberg am Attersee was auctioned for $40.4 million at Sotheby's in November 2011.

As he worked and relaxed in his home, Klimt normally wore sandals and a long robe with no undergarments. His simple life was devoted to his art, family, and little else except the Secessionist Movement. He avoided café society and seldom socialized with other artists. Klimt's fame usually brought patrons to his door and he could afford to be highly selective. Klimt wrote little about his vision or his methods. He wrote mostly postcards to Flöge and kept no diary. In a rare writing called "Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait", he states "I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women... There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night... Who ever wants to know something about me... ought to look carefully at my pictures."

In 1915 Anna, his mother, died. Klimt died three years later in Vienna on February 6, 1918, having suffered a stroke and pneumonia due to the worldwide influenza epidemic of that year. He was buried at the Hietzinger cemetery in Hietzing, Vienna. Numerous paintings by him were left unfinished

The city of Vienna, Austria had many special exhibitions commemorating the 150th anniversary of Klimt's birth in 2012.

images from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wrinkles make you more sympathetic and more understandable......................

Beautiful without Botox
Helen Mirren/ wikipedia

Today it is a common  thing to remove wrinkles with botox, which paralyzes the muscles behind the wrinkles. The skin becomes smoother, but at the same time you'll get a lesser opportunity to express yourself.

The scientists have discovered an unexpected side effect : When we cannot show as many facial expressions as before, we'll also be worse to interprete the feelings of others. The reason is that a human senses the mindset of others by "imitating" it -  among other things with one's own body language ...........

source: Science Daily, Dagens medicin, Medicinsk Vetenskab
image of Helen Mirren from wikipedia

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Scots Lovage/ Skotsk Lostilk

Ligusticum scoticum

Scots lovage, or Scottish licorice-root,is a perennial plant of the family Umbelliferae, found near the coasts of northern Europe and north-eastern North America. It grows up to 60 centimetres tall and is found in rock crevices and cliff-top grassland. The plant is edible, with a flavour resembling parsley or celery. The edge of the triangular leaves may be toothed, lobed or serrated and are typically either a paler green or magenta. The flowers are greenish-white.

Ligusticum scoticum tastes and smells like parsley or celery, and was formerly widely eaten in western Britain, both for nutrition and to combat scurvy. The plant is primarily arctic, ranging from northern Norway to the northerly shores of the British Isles and from western Greenland to New England.  A related species, Ligusticum hultenii, occurs around the northern Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Alaska.

The Latin name Ligusticum refers to the home of the plant namely Liguria in northern Italy where several species of this plant-family grow wild, but the Ligusticum scoticum origins from Scotland where it grows at the rocky coast. It also grows wild at the coast of Norway. In Denmark Scots Lovage is rare and protected. It grows wild in a few places in Denmark  - a few populations in Thy and Han Herred. It is possible to cultivate Scots Lovage in the garden and be able to pluck and use this well-tasting herb. 

Within the British Isles, Ligusticum scoticum is only found on coasts where the mean annual temperature is below 15 °C (59 °F). Towards the southern end of its range, the plant performs poorly on south-facing sites. It grows in fissures in rocks, where it may be the only vascular plant, and also in cliff-top grassland communities. Ligusticum scoticum cannot tolerate grazing, and is harmed by the actions of nesting seabirds, it is therefore rarely found on bird cliffs, or where grazing sheep and rabbits are found. It is, however, tolerant of salt spray, and its growth has been shown to improve when given dilute seas water. The leaves of L. scoticum are frost-tolerant, and die back each winter, but regrow very rapidly the following spring. In the British Isles, flowering occurs from June to August, and the seeds are ripe in October or November; the timing is expected to be later at higher latitudes. The flowers of L. scoticum are visited by generalist pollinators, mostly flies.


Folk medicine: In the old days  the plant juice was considered to be calming, and a decoction was used as a drink against hysteria and insanity.  Insomnia was helped by placing the plant root under the pillow.

Ligusticum scoticum was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 work Species Plantarum.

Scots Lovage was earlier used as a medical herb against digestion problems and reumathism and the plant juice was used to promote child birth. Decoction from the root was working somnolent - therefore Scots Lovage was earlier knon as sleep herb (søvnurt). 

Food: today Scots Lovage is used in soups and fish dishes. 
In tea as a light somnolent drug like lemon balm.
 Parts of Scots Lovage are fine in the kitchen. The young leaves, the flowers and the unripe seeds are well suited to be eaten fresh fx in salad or as a decoration when serving the food. The leaves are most delicate when quite young before the plant is flowering. They taste good in a mixed tomato salad or - salsa together with cucumber, onion, mint leaves and an oil/lemon dressing. Young leaves can be mixed in the mince for fish cakes. The stems can be made into candy for confiture. Older leaves, the ripe seeds and the root can be used in stews. Scots lovage can naturally be the part of a Bouquet garni. The ripe grounded seeds can be used as a substitut for pepper. 

If people suffered from insomnia they could pack the root into a sock and place it under the pillow

source: Danske Klosterurter, Anemette Olesen, 2001. 
photo: wikipedia

    Friday, June 30, 2017


    Levisticum officinale

    Lovage, soup herb, maggi herb, bouillon herb.  

    Lovage is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 1.8–2.5 m tall with a strong rootstock and pale yellow flowers. The stems and leaves smell somewhat similar to celery when crushed. The flowers are yellow to greenish-yellow, flowering is in late spring. The fruit is a dry two-parted schizocarp 4–7 mm long, mature in autumn. Lovage prefers a deep, mouldy and calcareous soil with enough moist . The plant grows well in shadow or half shadow in gardens, and it can grow in the same place in over 15 years.

    The homeland of the plant is unknown, but supposedly it origins from mountain woods in Central Asia or from the northern Iran. The plant can grow in altitudes of over 200 meter above sea level. Lovage is mentioned in Charlemagne's Kapitularium and was used as a kitchen herb and a medical plant since then. Today it is naturalized in many places , in Asia, North- and South America and in Europe (incl. Denmark). The monks brought the plant to Europe in the Middle Ages, and it has been  cultivated in Europe for centuries, the leaves being used as an herb, the roots as a vegetable, and the seeds as a spice, especially in southern European cuisine.Lovage is an unusual spice herb since it prefers a light shadow and must have water in dry periods. Lovage was earlier cultivated in farmers gardens for livestock medicine, but today it ias a spice herb in the garden and strayed here and there. In the old days it was - not known for any reason - plant in church yards.

    The name "lovage" is from "love-ache", ache being a medieval name for parsley; this is a folk-etymological corruption of the older French name levesche, from late Latin levisticum, in turn thought to be a corruption of the earlier Latin ligusticum, "of liguria" (northwest Italy), where the herb was grown extensively.

    In modern botanical usage, both Latin forms are now used for different (but closely related) genera, with Levisticum for (culinary) lovage, and ligusticum for Scots lovage, a similar species from northern Europe, and for related species.

    Folk Medicine

    A bath with lovage was said to heal gonorrhea. Decoction to drink in blatter and kidney disease and in stomach trouble. Lovage in the bath water could heal reumathic ailments, gouts, menstrual pain and migraine. To wash with lovage could give a clear skin and heal mouth ulcer and boils. Pulverized root in wine was drunk against blatter stones.Decoct of lovage could cure a bad eye sight.The dried and pulverized root was a part of a diuretic drink to people, infected by the plague.

    photo: gb
    Harpestræng ab. 1300: promotes digestion, was given against liver disorders , stomach pain, and as a diuretic. 
    1400: water decoction against blatter stone; the juice in the eyes of a patient who was paralyzed and had lost his voice. The juice gives a pretty hair and a good scent. 
    Christiern Petersen 1533:beer or wine decoction for liver and spleen disorders, against roundworms , crushed seeds with beer or wine decoction from lovage, hellebore, fennel and tansy in a balm upon leprous wounds.
    Henrik Smid 1546: dried and pulverized root in food for a cold stomach, promotes digestion. Wine decoction from root and seeds drives out jaundice and " the black melancholia". Crushed seeds upon bites from vipers, spiders, mad dogs, lizards and scorpions -ease the pain and drive out the poison.
    A linen cloth wettened with lovage water put on a swelling of the head; face bathed with lovage water gets clear, white and pretty skin, removes red and blue spots on the body after mange and boils.
    Simon Paulli 1648: crushed roots and seeds in wine for pain.

    An extraction vinaigre of lovage, burnet saxifrage and Angelica root was used against plague infection.Lovage was earlier used against mental disorders.The plant was a komponent of a snaps extraction against fever (malaria). The cooked plant was put upon arthritic limbs. 1700: tea from the leaves for urination difficulties. The root was a diuretic drug. 1757: the leaves were bound and put upon bites from snakes and lizards. The leaves as a cover and a milch decoction against blood infection.

    1930s: A decoction was used as a refreshing drug. A doctor said (1930s) that if the Danish population used this plant all doctors would die of hunger or  have to look out for another occupation.
    The Pharmacopoeia states seeds and root in 1772. 

    Pets: If the dog or the cat keep on placing its "cards" in an unwanted place, then make a strong decoct of lovage  and pour it on the spot, which makes the animal go elsewhere. The dog or cat can also be washed with lovage to avoid it getting  vermins or mange.

    photo: gb
    photo: gb
    Lovage belonged in the old days to one of the most used remedies of the veteranian, and from this reason it was found in most farmer gardens from before 1900s. Since the antique Greek  writer Pedanios Dioskurides had described it as a universal medical means in the 1. century AC it was soon spread ampong the monks in the Middle Ages, and it came to Denmark with the monks in the 1100s. The whole plant was used, sometimes a bouquet bound around the cow's tail to protect it against evil spirits, other times cooked in water as lovage water or cooked together with sod and salt to a porridge which was given to sick cows. 

    1800s: lovage was used as a preventive agent against all disease among the cattle, especially root and leaves were used for the cow's sickness  A sick cow got lovage root, salt and sod cooked together into a porridge, the animal had to be beaten with a coffin key between the horn while it was eating the porridge. In spring the cows had a tuft of grass with lovage - this would keep them healthy.
    In late summer the cattle had a bottle of lovage water and was smeared with tar upon the mule.

    1900s: Still in 1924 is mentioned the use of lovage against foot and mouth disease. Lovage tea was used against tympania, the root was a drug for cow premature abortion.

    Lovage was a part of a means for the lung- and liverdisease of the horse and against leap worms.
     Lovage also used for sheep's disease.

    Food: Lovage is a popular spice herb, used instead of bouillon and to spice the cooking water with the potatoes etc. Can also be a diuretic tea. The roots, which contain a heavy, volatile oil, are used as a mild aquaretic. Lovage root contains furanocoumarins which can lead to photosensitivity. In Romania it is also used dried and with seeds to conserve and to add flavour to pickled cabbage and cucumbers. The leaves can be used in salads, or to make soup or season broths, and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. Its flavor and smell can be described as a mix of celery and parsley, but with a higher intensity of both of those flavors. The seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel seeds. In the UK, an alcoholic lovage cordial is traditionally mixed with brandy in the ratio of 2:1 as a winter drink. In Romania, the leaves are the preferred seasoning for the various local broths, much more so than parsley or dill. In the Netherlands it is the only non salt ingredient of a traditional asparagus dish.

    The dried and pulverized root is (like pepper) a wonderful root for preparing food.  Young stems and leaves can be eaten; a couple of leaves good in the kale soup. A decoction of chopped leaves for cooked plaice and cod. Root and leaves have a strong spicy taste almost as a bouillon.

    Leaves, chives and dill, dried in a spice vinegar.  Crushed root or plant as a spice in minced meat, sauce and sausage. The etheric oil of the root in perfume and perfumed tobaccos.   

    In 1942 (during WWII) a poultry slaughterhouse in Denmark used lovage for producting chicken soup -  and lovage was cultivated on large areas for this purpose.

    In England the young shots of the root  are made into candy. Lovage is also used as a spice in the liquor industry.

    photo gb

    Superstition: Lovage in the bath water incites to love making. A bouquet of lovage hang above the door chase away the devil. Lovage hang by the house door kept away the black death, and if one chewed a lovage root the plague could not infect a human.
    In the times of the plague it was beneficial to hang lovage in front of the doors and keep the root in the mouth as a protection against infection. Lovage was a universel cure against witchcraft. 

    The plant was put under the doorstep of the stable which brought luck to the cattle and it was a protection against spell in the cattle.

    A wise woman in Himmerland put lovage root and fly rowan and a note with a spell at the doorstep of a stable which brought the farmer good luck with his cattle.

    Wolves get together when someone blows in a lovage stem. Roots and other parts of lovage put in the forest make wild animal approach.

    Brøndegaard, Folk og Flora, bd. 3, Dansk Etnobotanik 1978. 
    Danske Klosterurter, Anemette Olesen, 2001
    Krydderurter i haven, Anemette Olesen, 1998
    Wikipedia, Danish and English

    photos: grethe bachmann

    photos: wikipedia

    Tuesday, June 06, 2017

    I AM MARU - and my effect is positive !

    Looking at cute cats on the net gives a positive effect on humans - and this effect is much larger than the scientists ever believed. Cute cats on film are not just entertaining here and now,  but they bring us a warm feeling of happiness and a positive energy, which reduces tiring feelings like restlessness, irritation and depression. A new investigation on 7000 participants show this, made by Indiana University Media School in USA.