Category Archive 'Austria'

18 Jan 2017

Job Opportunity

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Telegraph:

An extremely rare job opportunity has opened for a hermit in a stunningly beautiful cloister perched on a cliff in Austria.

But the successful applicant for the unpaid position must be prepared to live without electricity, running water, or the internet, and must be able to cope with the possibility of being shot by a jealous local.

Municipal and Catholic officials in the Austrian town of Saalfelden are looking for someone to live in a nearby hermitage built into steep cliffs characteristic of the Salzburg region that borders on Germany.

Applicants should be independently wealthy or have another job as the parish website says the position does not come with a salary.

And because the 350-year-old hermitage – one of the few such places in Europe that is still in use – is unheated and sits at an altitude of 4,600 feet, it is only inhabitable between April and November.

“There is no classic job description for a hermit,” the parish conceded on its website. Despite the potential hardships, the parish is confident it will find the right man, who according to local priest Alois Moser should be a “a person at peace with himself.”

Father Moser and Saalfelden mayor Erich Rohrmoser will pick the new hermit, who will be chosen more on the basis of personality than on career background.

The job ad did not specify that the future hermit had to be a Roman Catholic, just that he should have a Christian outlook and be ready to greet visiting pilgrims and locals.

A hermit is defined as someone living in solitude as a religious discipline.

But that will not be case in Saalfelden, where the successful candidate will have to greet and listen to the many locals and outsiders who come to appreciate the view from the hermitage and unburden themselves to the resident hermit, the ad explained.

The hermitage has been uninhabited since a Viennese pastor and psychotherapist left last autumn to return to his normal life after just one stint in the job. Before him, a Benedictine monk lived there for more than a decade.

Complete story.

Hat tip to John Brewer.

21 Dec 2014

Krampus: St. Nick’s Evil Twin

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krampus-2

In Austria, when St. Nicholas arrives with gifts for good children, he is accompanied by Krampus, a hairy, horned and cloven-hoofed monster equipped with enormous fangs who carries a bundle of birch twigs to beat up on naughty children. Krampus was banned by the fascists in the 1930s for being too negative a symbol.

In the postcard above, a relatively benign version of Krampus is carrying unwary infants right away.

Wikipedia article.

Krampus: Santa’s Sadistic Sidekick

Krampus

10 Sep 2013

Austrian Dominatrix Gets Male Submissives to Pay to Do Farm Chores

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According to Spiegel, her customers unaccountably became dissatisfied. (Clearly, she needed to whip them harder.)

Several sadomasochists eagerly responded to an advert posted by an Austrian woman farmer seeking clients. But they didn’t get the punishment they had hoped for. Instead, they found themselves doing farm labor in fetish gear, while paying for the privilege.

To sadomasochists keen on fresh air and the country life, it must have seemed like a dream come true. A 35-year-old woman advertizing herself as a dominatrix promised strict discipline to paying clients on her farm in the northeast of Austria.

Some 15 men responded to the advert posted in the Internet, and two or three took up the offer. “They didn’t get what they bargained for,” a spokesman for the Lower Austria police told SPIEGEL ONLINE, confirming reports in the Austrian media in recent days.

Instead of savoring the sweet pleasure of pain, the men found themselves consigned to farm labor such as chopping wood in the nude and mowing the lawn while wearing black fetish masks on the farm near the town of St Pölten. In effect, they were paying for the privilege of doing farm work.

“They had these clothes one wears in such circles, leather and plastic clothes and masks,” said the spokesman.

It is unclear how much they paid their mistress. After a week, they realized they had been duped and downed tools.

24 Aug 2013

Female Memorial Figure

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Female sculpture from Zentralfriedhof Cemetery, Simmering, Vienna (click on picture for larger image)

My curiosity is insatiable once provoked, and I’ve just wasted more than a hour trying to figure out whose memorial this very charming statue ornaments, and what is intended by the image of a classically-draped Bernini-esque female figure, kneeling, long hair hanging down, wringing her hands over a peculiar Art Noveau jewelry box or miniature model of a theater. Are we to take it that the soul or anima of the deceased is housed in this rock-crystal-windowed casket and the lady is imploring for it to come back to life?

A statue of this quality and interest is bound to be photographed more than once, and sure enough, I found more details at least, here and here. But none of the photographers can be bothered to identify the deceased party being memorialized, the sculptor, or what exactly is supposed to be going on. Imagine my frustration.

Via Fred Lapides (who means to say “Memento Mori”).

10 Apr 2013

Architectural Whimsy and a Coincidence

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My wife Karen forwarded to me the other day Gizmodo’s story on a dry nook in the middle of a pond in Vöcklabruck, Austria, and it is certainly an eye-catching and amusing architectural gimmick.

The interesting coincidence is the location.

Vöcklabruck
, in Upper Austria is my family’s ancestral home.

They were first recorded under the surname “Buchhaim,” which later became corrupted into Puchhaim and finally Pöchner. (Zienkiewicz came later.)

Seibmacher writes:

Über die Heimat der Pöchner ist nichts verlässliches bekannt. Während einige dieselben aus Schottland stammen lassen, wieder andere Steiermark als ihre Heimat nennen, kommen selbe zu Anfang des. 12. Jahrhunderts bereits in Salzburg vor, von wo sie sich nach Oberöstereich in die Gegend von Vöcklabruck wandten.

(translation:)

Concerning the homeland of the Pöchners there is no reliable information. According to some they originally emigrated from Scotland, but different sources call the Steiermark their homeland. From the beginning of the 12th Century onward they were in Salzburg, from whence they went to Upper Austria to the vicinity of Vöcklabruck.

The theory proposed by the former sources is that Buchhaim-Puchhaim-Pöchner surname comes actually from the Scottish Buchan, and that some Comyns related to the Norman Comyns who inherited via a Celtic maternal line the Scottish Earldom of Buchan moved to Austria.

This would be a plausible story if the emigration occurred in the years between 1306 and 1314 when the Comyns lost the struggle for power and the throne of Scotland to the Bruces, but the Pöchners are already in Austria two centuries earlier.

Below is the Pöchner coat of arms, which the heraldically-knowledgeable will perceive at once represents a simple reversal of the tinctures of the arms of Austria, i.e. of the Babbenburg Dukes of Austria, acquired by Leopold V (“Luitpold der Tugendhafte,” Leopold the Virtuous) in the course of the 1191 Siege of Acre.

Leopold’s arms consisted of “Gules, a fess Argent” because in the course of the fighting his tunic had become completely covered with blood except for a white band which had been covered by his belt.

16 Jul 2012

Heidentor

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Imagined reconstruction of Heidentor (“Heathen’s Gate”), the most impressive surviving Roman monument in Austria.

Carutum web-site:

All that remains now of the former splendid edifice is the famous archway. Latest scientific investigations clearly prove that it was originally erected as a quadrifrons (Greek tetrapylon), a monument with pillars and four archways, which was built from 354 to 361 AD as a triumphal arch in honour of Emperor Constantius II and which rose protectively over the statue of the Emperor.

The name ‘Heidentor’ dates from the Middle Ages when the archway was thought to have been erected by non-Christians and was therefore called ‘heydnisch Tor’ (heathen gate).

12 Jun 2012

Flash Mob, Carmina Burana

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

25 Apr 2011

14th Century Horde Found in Backyard in Lower Austria

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Ring with precious stones

An Austrian residing in or near the city of Wiener Neustadt, referred to in news accounts only as “Andreas K.”, was digging to expand a small pond in his backyard garden in 2007 when he discovered a medieval horde of 200 pieces of jewelry, buckles, and silver plates embedded with precious stones, pearls, and fossilized coral.

The finder failed to recognize their value at the time, and simply placed all the objects in a box. He sold his house and moved in 2009, at which time he happened to glance in the box previously stored in the basement. The dirt covering the object had dried and begun to fall off revealing jewels and precious metals.

The finder made inquiries on the Internet and knowledgeable collectors advised him to contact the Bundesdenkmalamt Österreich (BDA), the Austrian Heritage Office.

The BDA press office released a news report on Friday, but it is obvious that the objects have yet to be seriously analyzed and evaluated.

World Weekly News

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.


Belt buckle with pearl inlay

10 Jan 2011

Order of the Golden Fleece

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19th century medal of the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece

The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded January 10, 1430 in Bruges, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and is the oldest of the great chivalric orders of the Middle Ages.

The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded, according to Philip’s proclamation:

[F]for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also …to do honor to old knights; …so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order … should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds…”.

The name of the Order and its badge, a pendant sheep’s fleece made of gold, represented the fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts – a heroic legend which must have reminded Philip of the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail. The badge is suspended from a Collar in the form of a Fire-Steel (fusil), throwing off flames (the central fire-steel being elaborated later into an ornate, enameled jewel, from which the badge was hung).

The motto of the Order, Pretium Laborum Non Vile (“Not a bad reward for labor”) traditionally appeared on the front of gold versions of the collar and, on the reverse, the motto Non Aliud (a translation of Philip the Good’s motto “Autre n’auray” – “I will have no other”). Non-sovereign knights were traditionally forbidden by the Order’s statutes to accept membership in any other orders of knighthood.

Membership was originally limited to twenty-four knights, but was gradually increased to 51. When Burgundy was absorbed into the Empire, sovereignty over the order passed to the House of Hapsburg. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) divided the Order into separate branches under the patronage of both Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs. Its members have typically been drawn from the ranks of sovereign European princes and the most prominent military heroes. Ironically, both Napoleon Bonaparte and his adversary, the Duke of Wellington, were members of the Spanish Order.

The connection of the Austrian Order to the state was lost in 1918, but the Austrian Order is still regarded as “an independent legal entity in international law”, and its current sovereign is Archduke Karl Habsburg-Lothringen

The sovereign of the Spanish Order is King Juan Carlos of Spain.

20 Jun 2008

Soccer Game Americans Would Watch

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Austrian Team, National colors in bodypaint

Reuters
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Whether it has any bearing on Monday’s crunch Euro 2008 match between the two countries is debatable but Austria drew first blood on Sunday when their topless women’s soccer team beat Germany 10-5.

The traditional swapping of shirts afterwards was not an option as the six-a-side teams wore nothing but thongs, with the national colors painted on to their bare skin.

16 Aug 2007

800 Year Old Cross Found In Trash

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Hermann Mayrhofer, curator of the Leogang Museum, with cross

AP:

A valuable cross dating to the Middle Ages has turned up in a trash bin in Austria.

Police in Salzburg say a woman looking for old crockery in a trash container in the western Austrian town of Zell am See stumbled upon the precious piece in 2004.

They say she apparently she had no idea of it’s value and just stashed it behind her couch.

Now experts say the cross could be worth as much as $575,000. …

The Austria Press Agency quoted police official Christian Krieg as saying the woman found the cross after a hotel owner who lived in Zell am See died and his home was being cleared by relatives.

The woman showed the cross to the niece of the dead man, but the niece didn’t want it and allowed the woman to take it, the news agency reported.

Last month, one of the woman’s neighbours had an inkling the cross might be something special and took it to a local museum in the village of Leogang.

The curator, Hermann Mayrhofer, alerted police. An investigation disclosed that, until the Second World War, the cross had been part of an art collection belonging to Izabella Elzbieta of Czartoryski Dzialinska, Poland.

Before the outbreak of war, Elzbieta tried to hide the piece from the Nazis by concealing it in the cellar of a building in Warsaw. But the Nazis found it in 1941 and later brought it, along with other items from Elzbieta’s collection, to a castle in Austria. It is unclear what happened next.

This summer, the cross was taken to Vienna for analysis but it has now been returned to the museum in Leogang. Experts at Vienna’s fine arts museum determined that it comes from Limoges, France, and dates to about 1200.

07 Dec 2006

Wimpiness Spreads to Mitteleuropa

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Krampus

Reuters reports that efforts are underway to ban Santa’s scary Central European companion Krampus.

As Christmas nears, Austrian children hoping for gifts from Santa Claus will also be watching warily for “Krampus,” his horned and hairy sidekick.

In folklore, Krampus was a devil-like figure who drove away evil spirits during the Christian holiday season.

Traditionally, he appeared alongside Santa around December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, and the two are still part of festivities in many parts of central Europe.

But these traditions came under the spotlight in Austria this year, after reports last week that Santa — also known as St Nicholas, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle — had been banned from visiting kindergartens in Vienna because he scared some children.

Officials denied the reports, but said from now on only adults the children knew would be able to don Santa’s bushy white beard and red habit to visit the schools.

Now, a prominent Austrian child psychiatrist is arguing for a ban on Krampus, who still roams towns and villages in early December.

Boisterous young men wearing deer horns, masks with battery-powered red eyes, huge fangs, bushy coats of sheep’s fur, and brandishing birchwood rods storm down the streets, confronting spectators gathered to watch the medieval spectacle, which is also staged in parts of nearby Hungary, Croatia and Germany’s Bavaria state.

Anyone who doesn’t dodge or run away fast enough might get swatted — although not hard — with the rod.

“The Krampus image is connected with aggression, and in a world that is anyway full of aggression, we shouldn’t add figures standing for violence… and hell,” child psychiatrist Max Friedrich said.

Hat tip to Karen Myers.


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