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[Tidbits] A Commesso of an Asp Upon a Breast


A Commesso of an Asp Upon a Breast

This is the tale of an Asp not unlike the one who tempted Eve to
tempt Adam to deny Yaweh by eating the fruit of the tree … and it
is the tale of the breast of a Femme Fatale … a seductress
supreme who was the third daughter of a king … and it is the tale
of a piece of jewelry in which both the Asp and the Femme reside.

Our piece of jewelry is a Commesso. A Commesso is created by making
a picture out of hand-carved pieces of semi-precious stones … such
as opals and agates and quartzes and jaspers and other brightly
colored material … and then fitting the pieces together to form
an image not unlike in look to that of a cameo. The method was
perfected in the 1500’s in Florence and Rome. The resultant item is
also known as a Florentine Mosaic.

Our Asp … who from the inception of time has had bad press–we are
all aware, I’m sure, of what bad press can do to a being’s
reputation --was chosen by our Femme to deliver her from her life’s
turmoils. For after all … without knowing our Femme’s true
propensities and inclinations … the asp was her safest bet for in
mythological lore a serpent is androgynous … being both male and

Quick Tidbit within this Tidbit folks. What animal in nature’s
kingdom is also–at not so rare times–born androgynous … having
both female and male organs. Ready for the surprise of your lives?
It’s the bear. Go look it up in your search engine of choice. Type
in Androgynous Animals.

Our Femme … queen of Egypt … Cleopatra by name … was co-ruler
with her brother. You all know the story. You saw Elizabeth Taylor
play her. For some of you really really really older ones … you
may have seen Theda Bara play her in 1917. If you did … I bow to
you in homage and awe.

And so … some time around the 1700’s … an unknown artist in
Italy created a Commesso portrait of Cleopatra holding an asp to her
breast. For her … it’s the end of the line. For us … it’s the
beginning … for we get to see our Commesso of Cleopatra and her Asp
inset in a gold and enamel mount. It’s quite striking … especially
when viewing with an eye toward the technique used in making it and
the era in which it was made. And so … as I end my refrain …

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Tidbits … and then click on the link that says: Commesso … where
you will see a graphic of our Florentine Mosaic.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week. Benjamin Mark

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