Odin and Quetzalcoatl. Carol Highsmith Collection. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007687080/
One of my goals in writing for the blog has been to feature the decorative details of the Adams Building, including the figures that grace the bronze doors. I thought it was time revisit this topic, so this post is dedicated to Odin, the image that stands beside Quetzalcoatl.
Odin, sometimes written as Wodan, Woden, or Wotan, is a principle god of Norse mythology. He was a god of war and protector of heroes. Warriors who died in battle were escorted by Valkyries to join him in Valhalla – Hall of the Slain. He had an eight legged horse by the name of Sleipnir who had runes inscribed on his teeth, and two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory/mind), who gathered information for him from around the world (Midgard). That made me wonder- why was he chosen to be depicted on the brass doors and join others like Sequoyah, who were associated with writing?
Odin. Carol Highsmith Collection. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007687080/
The answer is because Odin is seen as the creator of the runic alphabet and god of poets. This alphabet supposedly was given to him hanging from Yggdrasil – the World Tree – and the runes were reputed to have magical powers that when put together correctly could enact power spells. Think letters put together to form words, then sentences, paragraphs, and books.
There was, however, an interesting angle that occurred to me when I was reading about Odin that makes me feel a bit of kinship toward him. Odin was the god of war and was concerned with battles and all things military. He would have needed intelligence from all over the world, so he sent his ravens Huginn and Munnin to gather it. They functioned like librarians!
Now I really understand why Odin was chosen.
While doing research I got distracted by this wonderful advertisement published in the New York Tribune on October 5, 1920. It was an advertisement from the New York Edison Company touting the benefits of electricity, mostly for efficiency and safety, for businesses. But what really caught my attention was the hand drawn caricatures, for lack […]
Today’s photo is of a bronze medallion on the vestibule floor of the Adams Building’s 2nd Street entrance. I have walked over it for several years and was curious about the imagery. The symbolism of the torch – often a symbol of knowledge, learning, and enlightenment, is obvious and makes sense in the context of […]
The Earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons and consequently may govern them as they please. When researchers walk into the Science and Business Reading Room, not only are they inspired […]
It would be an understatement to say that the Library of Congress has a lot of material in its collection. Of course, all of it has to go somewhere and staff have to be able to find it. In 1897, the Library moved from its home in the U.S. Capitol to its own separate building- […]
With the end of Daylight Savings Time my walk home after work is in the dark. During one of these walks I was captivated by the beauty of the John Adams Building all aglow with its outdoor lights and had to capture it with a photograph, well actually my iPhone. I like to refer to the […]
We have visited the topic of the images on the bronze doors of the Adams Building in several posts – Itzamna, Quetzalcoatl, and Brahma. Today’s post celebrates Native American Heritage Month by featuring two pictures from the Adams Building. One image is of Sequoyah from the building’s bronze doors done by Lee Lawrie, the other […]
In 2010 Jennifer Harbster, my co-blogger, did a post about ice cream that mentioned the beginning of National Ice Cream Month in 1984, but I ran across this advertisement in Chronicling America that ran in the Washington Times on May 26, 1920. This was long before Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month […]
This week I participated in the Science at Risk: Toward a National Strategy for Preserving Online Science meeting hosted by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). During this two-day meeting the Library’s recently-retired manuscript specialist Len Bruno took us on a journey through the scientific treasures of the Library’s Manuscript Division. On display were items […]
The pneumatic tubes which are used to send book requests at the Library are objects of interest to a number of us here. They have been featured in at least 2 blog posts – one from the Law Library’s blog and before that in my post A Short Visit from a Noted Gentleman where I […]