Origins of Common Pop Culture Icons


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:wink: How, When, Why... enjoy!
here's a fun, quick start...

5 Surprising Real-World Origins of Pop Culture Icons!


Pop Culture Origins :arrow:

The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci - 1490


Tower of Time segments by John Gurche - 1981
mural at the Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

Altered Beast Sega arcade game - 1988

Thor Ragnarok Marvel - 2017

American skeptic and investigator, Joe Nickell on an Interview
with the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast team :arrow:

"I did an alien timeline, and did sort of Walt Disney-esque cartoon drawings of the different types of aliens, starting in 1947 with some little green men, and showing the sort of imaginative variety of alien types over the years, of hairy dwarves, and cyclopean figures, and robotic forms and blobs and just all manner. Just as people would imagine; if I asked someone to imagine an alien creature, it would be all over the place. But then, with the Betty and Barney Hill case, you began to get the little big-eyed, big-headed humanoid, and that type came back and back until now, if you go into a toy store and you look at aliens, you see pretty much that's the standard model. Very unlikely that if life developed on some distant planet, that it would look so much like us. We tend to make the various entities that we're interested in in our own image. And so Bigfoot is our big, stupid cousin from the past, and ET is our futuristic relative coming from the future back to save us. These are forms of us. Of course, ghosts are transparent forms of us; angels are us with wings, and of course, vampires are us with an attitude..."

full chart :arrow:

The Story of Santa Claus by Joseph A. McCullough
plates illustrated by Peter Dennis - Osprey 2014

The life and miracles of Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas of Myra :arrow:

From Odin to Father Christmas

The Yuletide :arrow:

Father Christmas :arrow:

The Jolly Ole, Mr and Mrs Santa couple of today

Santa Claus :arrow:

The Making of Jurassic Park's Mutant
"Spitter Dilo" (Dilophosaurus ‎Venenifer)

The History of the Dilophosaurus in the
Jurassic Park Franchise by Klayton Fioriti

Dilophosauridae :arrow:

Dilophosaurus :arrow:

Sinosaurus :arrow:

Two species were previously documented, Dilophosaurus wetherilli from North America,
and Dilophosaurus sinensis from China. The Chinese specimen was later reclassified as Sinosaurus triassicus,
with a possibility of a second Asian species named Sinosaurus sinensis. A third species, Sinosaurus shawanensis,
was possibly the largest recorded as of date. Within the Jurassic Park franchise, including the simulator Game, Jurassic Park: Evolution,
Dilophosaurus fossils can still be obtained from China in-game, but not from North America. Both Dilophosaurus and Sinosaurus, would
most probably have coexisted, on both continents during the Triassic and Jurassic periods.


Inspirational Anatomical Structures in Lizards

Frilled Lizard / Dragon - Chlamydosaurus kingii

Secret Toadhead Agama - Phrynocephalus mystaceus

Early Examples of Frilled monsters in Pop Culture

Jirass from Ultraman, Episode 10: The Mysterious Dinosaur Base (1966)
Originally a modified Godzilla suit, inspired by sea creatures and the Loch Ness monster


Dinosaurs Attack! trading card series by Topps - 1988
inspired by the successful, Mars Attacks trading card series of 1962


"Despite the company's hopes, Dinosaurs Attack! did not achieve commercial success. Tim Burton was planning
on making a movie version, but dismissed it when Jurassic Park was released. Instead he made Mars Attacks!

card no. 38 showing a giant frilled lizard or random dinosaur!
(could this be the possible, original inspiration for the frills?)

Michael Crichton's 1990 novel Jurassic Park, introduced the venomous Procompsognathus, Troodons
and the now iconic spitting Dilos. The 1993 Gift edition of the novel published by Alfred A. Knopf,
contained 12 dinosaur paintings including a Dilophosaurus, which however was lacking frills.

Earth magazine, September 1993
courtesy of Darren Naish :arrow:

Illustrated video of the novel version of Nedry's death from Jurassic Park,

by Tang Lee :arrow:


Steven Spielberg's 1993 movie, reduced the animal's size considerably before adding the movable frills;
so the audience can tell the difference between it and the Velociraptors, as did the rest of the franchise...

Updated Note: The Jurassic Park raptors, are Velociraptor antirrhopus, now considered a synonym of Deinonychus antirrhopus.
They are not to be confused with the smaller V. mongoliensis. For more information check out, "Real Reason The Velociraptors
Are So Big In Jurassic Park" by Klayton Fioriti on Youtube :arrow:

The team working on the game, Jurassic World: Evolution, where probably unaware of this background, when they decided to include Deinonychus alongside Velociraptor. As with the changes given to Dilophosaurus, its size was greatly reduced and a crest was added to its head in order again, to differentiate between the two, prompting some to nickname it the Cartoon Raptor!

Comparative reconstructions by Fred Wierum :arrow:

In 2013 a member of the Dromaeosaurid Subfamily, Velociraptorinae, was named Acheroraptor temertyorum,
and is said to have coexisted with Tyrannosaurus rex, making it a possibly more likely candidate for the raptors
if it was discovered back then. Archeroraptor figurine by David Silva and art by Jonathan Kuo,
and size comparisons by Lee Atkinson on :arrow:

Some experts even speculate, that Dromaeosaurids might have used their wings to communicate
or as threat displays, in the same manner that some owl species are known for. This could mean that
they are more likely to act in a similar way to the movie Dilos, albiat with feathers instead of frills!

Early Dilophosaurus concept art by Mark Hallett - 1990

Crash McCreery's concept designs

The movie's famous, Isla Nublar Incident scene, concerning Dennis Nedry,
with what looks like, the combined elements of a Komodo dragon like snout,
a frilled lizards neck and scales, and finally, the spitting action of a rinkhals cobra!

This scene left a great impact on future renditions and inspirations for Dilophosaurus
and other creatures, in the media, from toys to movies, animation and games.

The episode "Les chasseurs de dinosaures", from the 1998 French animated, action series, Bob Morane

Frilled mascot at the Eric GEIRNAERT, amber exhibition, 2000

Spazz, from "Dinotopia Quest For The Ruby Sunstone" - 2005

Crypto and family, "The Dinosaur Project" movie - 2012

Human Kind Of, animated series - 2018

Plants vs. Zombies comic, In Timepocalypse - Issue# 3

Online Game, ARK: Survival Evolved

"Tzitzi Ya Ku", from Monster Hunter World

Dilophospinus - Concept for a cancelled hybrid toy, in the
"Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect" toy line, produced by Kenner

Pages from "The InGen Field Guide" booklet included with
"Jurassic Park: The Game" Deluxe Edition set - 2011

Jurassic Outpost Field Guide :arrow:

Jurassic World Evolution Wiki
Species Profile :arrow:

:cool: "Henry Wu: You are acting like we are engaged in some kind of mad science, but we are doing what we have done from the beginning.
Nothing in Jurassic World is natural! We have always filled gaps in the genomes with the DNA of other animals and if their genetic code
was pure, many of them would look quite different, but you didn't ask for reality; you asked for more teeth!
" Jurassic World - 2015

:mrgreen: Frillz or not... Dilos still look horrid as hell!

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Tiki Masks - A Case Study in
Urban Archeology and Ethnography

The Rise of Tiki Culture

Identifying the most common
Polynesian idols and carvings

Popular Tiki choices :arrow:

Shared Mythological Characters

Tangaroa - god of the sea and father of many sea creatures


Hina/Sina - names assigned to a number of Polynesian goddesses and queens


Māui - great culture hero and trickster in Polynesian mythology


Hawaii - kiʻi

Four Great Gods of Hawaii:

Kanaloa - god of the oceans
Kāne - god of forests, wild foods and medicinal plants
Kū - god of war, politics, farming and Fishing
Lono - god of agriculture and peace

Kūkaʻilimoku or Kū seems to be the most iconic and readily recognizable
of the Hawaiian gods; with the greatest influence on pop culture.

Other representations of Kū include busts made from plant fibers,
feathers and sea shells, and often carried during battles and ceremonies

Kamapuaʻa - hog-man fertility superhuman associated with Lono

Other representations of Lono,
often mistaken for the goddess Pele

Pele - goddess of fire, volcanoes and creator of the Hawaiian Islands

Tahiti - tiʻi

Koro / Oro - god of war

The Three Cannibals at
the, Musée du Quai Branly

Also growing in popularity as did other regional artifacts

Marquesas Islands

Cook Islands

Easter Island - mo‘ai

Moai figures were carved by the Rapa Nui people,
mostly between 1250 AD and the 16th century

Now among the most popular and well
recognized cultural icons celebrated today


New Zealand

Hei-tiki pendants

Maori wood carvings

Incorporation into modern Tiki Styles

Styles may sometimes be mixed and merged, for example
this BarConic Duece Tiki Mug, manages to combines both
a New Zealand, Maori Tiki with a Tahiti Cannibal pose!

Spastik Plastik, collectible characters by Funko
such as Dino and Elwood, combine features of
both a Hawaiian kiʻi and Easter Island mo‘ai...

Note: its is often common to mistake Melanesian sculptures
and masks from Papua New Guinea, with Polynesian tiki.

Even Degei / Ndengei, supreme serpent god of Fiji is sometimes
depicted alongside other Polynesian idols, in art and settings...

Tiki Gods of the Enchanted Tiki Room, Disneyland Resort

Behind the Mask

So what about all those Tiki masks?

Many of the exotic element we witness in literature, movies
and other art forms, are sometimes inspired by museum collections,
but its difficult for most observers to tell pieces apart. For example
as stated above, its sometimes easy to confuse pacific cultural elements...

Contrary to popular portrayals, a Hawaiian Kahuna is not a king, chieftain or witch doctor, nor do they
wear tiki masks. A Kahuna can be a priest, architect, physician (kahuna laau lapaau),
a canoe designer (kahuna kalai waa), or simply any expert in any profession...

While the tiki mask was never worn, warriors and priests
did wear the Makaki'i or Makini, gourd helmet...

Smaller versions made from coconuts and feathers
are a popular car accessory. They can also be
seen worn, on Hawaiian warrior, tiki mugs

Enter Safari decor...

Tiki and Safari styles often merge within popular culture, with
interesting results. Here kahunas are depicted as witch doctors,
while tiki statues become ceremonial African masks!

Even the famous Tiki Bob's mug and logo, seems to resemble
the African Ngil masks, worn by the Fang people of Gabon

Warriors and Witch-doctors

African witch-doctors or sangomas differ from one cultural tradition,
to the other, unlike their universal depictions in western art and media

As with Pacific Cultures, the same approach was applied to the whole continent,
with no distinction made to sangoma, warriors, elders or chieftains. some portrayals
seem to be inspired directly by the Masai of East Africa, who wore headdresses instead of masks.
A wide variety of Central and West African masks played a bigger role later on as well.

Oval masks seem to be the most inspirational models,
like the kpeliyee masks worn by the Senufo people

Note: many of the so called Masai or Zulu masks, especially tiki-like or oval shaped ones sold in shops, are actually Asian masks
made in Lombok Island, Indonesia, and sold to tourists all over the world. Indonesia has a long tradition in mask making, but it seems
the wider market demands the more exotic varieties, which is why these examples are also painted in Australian aboriginal dots and artistic designs!

Even wrestler Kamala's mask, is probably of Asian manufacture too!

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic...

Possible further confusion with North American masks

Reconstructions of the masks worn by the Calusa of Florida
in the 16th century, with art and commentary by Theodor Morris

Iroquois False Face Society

Kwakwaka'wakw, Pacific Northwest Coast

Authentic African masks :arrow:

Warfare or Ceremony?

Masks in the media are often treated like warrior helmets,
but how much of that holds true to real African masks?

Warrior masks in Africa are mostly reserved for specific,
hunting, initiation, funeral, judiciary and per-war ceremonies...


Guere, We - Liberia and Ivory Coast

Bete - Ivory Coast

Salampasu - Congo

Songye, Zappo Zap - Congo

Boa - Congo

Asaro Mud Men, masks (Holosa), from the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, are claimed to have
been rooted in warfare. According to tradition, such masks where once worn in a battle to scare and drive away enemies

Shield masks

When African masks where seen on the battle field, they where mostly used
as shield bosses by the Warua, Songye and Labu people of Congo, thou
their shields are much smaller than the imagined examples from fiction

large Shield masks are sometimes used to explain theories about the reported
anatomy of the headless Blemmyes and Epiphagi, mentioned in antiquity...

Shield sized tiki Masks?

Giant masks from the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

Masks from Papua New Guinea are diverse in shape, function and form, but they do
sometimes adhere to our expectations of an exotic tropical mask, with large eyes, gaping
mouths with teeth and or a flicking tongue, nose piercings, threatening expressions...etc.


Papua New Guinea style tiki masks at
the Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

So it seems that most of our ideas concerning tiki and witch-doctor masks,
where also partially inspired by traditional masks from Papua New Guinea!

Quick notes on Comparative Ethnography

Earlier examples of African Masks

Rock Art of the Tassili n'Ajjer, Algeria
Early Neolithic era - 10,000 BP and 6,000 BP

Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Old Dongola, Sudan
12th to 13th century murals discovered recently in 2004

Yoruba copper mask of Obalufon from the city of Ife, c.1300

"Mansa Musa. One of the greatest emperors of the kingdom of Mande was Mansa Musa, He came to power in 1307.
The cities that he built became centres of Arab culture. Here, in his capital city of Mali, Mansa Musa is borne on a litter by
subject chiefs, and attended by the court poet (wearing the bird-head and feathers). Look and Learn issue no 329 (4 May 196:cool:."

In africa, neck rings are worn among the South Ndebele peoples,
of South Africa, however the commonly recognized media examples
are based on that worn by women of the Kayan people in Myanmar

Returning White Gods

This is a common theme in colonial literature, inspired by the conquest of the Aztecs by Hernán Cortés . however, as the
Stranger King theory suggests, quite often, the newcomers are used by different faction leaders within the indigenous population,
to resolve conflict or take part in wars against competing rivals. This was utilized as a plot-point in the animated movie "The Road to El Dorado"

The East India Company and White Rajahs later tried taking advantage of this concept, evoking the Aryan invasion myths,
which is exemplified in literary works such as Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King", and H.P. Lovecraft's
"Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", the latter being directly inspired by the White Gods trope

The 1975 movie, "The Man Who Would Be King", even anachronistically
depicted mountain tribesmen, wearing stereotypical tribal masks into battle!

Tribal human sacrifices, did not involve volcanoes!

Our own fantasies about Volcano sacrifices may have been inspired by the Etruscan
Vulcanalia, where fish and small animals are offered to Vulcan, instead of human victims.

Hawaiian Sacrifices often involved war captives, slaves, law-breakers and
defeated political opponents, who are clubbed to death on the shoulder

Shrunken heads where only recorded in the northwestern region of the Amazon, Ecuador and Peru.
Most notably by the Jivaroan tribes such as the Shuar, Achuar, Huambisa and Aguaruna.

Teepees and Totem Poles!

Totem Poles are a mostly built in the
Pacific Northwest Coast of North America

Yet its common to find them inaccurately included within
a plains, South Western setting, surrounded by teepees...

Tiki are not Totem Poles!

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Spanish Gifquisition
Sergeant Knight at Arms
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Was introduced in the islands by Spanish navigators indicating the act of "drinking something".
The human animal. A personal view of human speciesPag. 28
- Desmond Morris

In Spain we have a very deep-rooted wine culture where it dates back to the Bronze Age. It was the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who introduced the vine to the peninsula.

old one

new one

Just as everything evolves, so does the way wine is drunk. It is still used in rural areas but its use is falling into disuse.


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History of the Hurdy Gurdy and similar
instruments with Fredrik Knudsen...

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Dark Secrets and Hooded Figures...

The hellish history of the devil
: Satan in the Middle Ages

Tales of Unholy Subversion

Inquisition and redemption

Renaissance magic :arrow:

Ceremonial magic :arrow:

Faust's Mephistopheles :arrow:

Hoods in the Old South

Red Robes and Cultists, 2014 by Terence E. Hanley :arrow:
The illustrated history of robed cultists on the covers of Weird Tales pulp magazine, from 1928 to 1952

Mainstream Pop culture

KKK Catalogue of official robes and banners - 1925
contemporary to the period's countless depictions of villainous secret societies

Bat Man VS The Monk - Detective Comics #31 & #32 (1939)

Baron Zemo (Marvel) and Cobra Commander (G.I. Joe)

Superman, Jungle Drums (1943) contains elements possibly inspired by the narratives and cover art style of Weird Tales,
as well as some of the works of HP Lovecraft. The costume looks similar to the example from Seabury Quinn' 1934 tale,
"The Red Knife of Hassan" with cover art by Margaret Brundage, shown previously above. The scenes are also reminiscent of Lovecraft's own tones and racism. "...and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon... " “Herbert West: Reanimator”

TV Tropes...

Secret Circle of Secrets :arrow:

Hollywood Satanism :arrow:

Religious Horror :arrow:
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