Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Other Starbucks Mermaid Cover-Up

From Got Medieval: "Here is the official history of the Starbucks logo, as found on Starbucks.com’s FAQ page.

When we were originally looking for a logo for Starbucks in 1971, we wanted to capture the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders. [...] We pored over old marine books until we came up with a logo based on an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid encircled by the store’s original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice.

"And here is the same story embellished a bit in company co-founder Howard Schultz’s 1997 book Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Build a Company One Cup at a Time where it goes something like this:

[Fellow Starbucks founder] Terry [Heckler] also poured over old marine books until he came up with a logo based on an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid, or siren, encircled by the store’s original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice. That early siren, bare-breasted and Rubenesque, was supposed to be as seductive as coffee itself.

"Now, here’s the problem with this tidy little origin story: there’s no such thing as a 16th-century Norse woodcut. Don’t believe me? Try the following Google search:

“Norse woodcut” -Starbucks

"As you can see, it returns a paltry 40 results, almost all of them just spam sites that clipped the phrase from Starbucks’s site or an article about the coffee company, and those hits that aren’t spam are all just obliquely referring to Starbucks without using the name.

"Why can Google find us no non-Starbucksian “Norse woodcuts”? Because by the time woodcut images on paper arose in medieval Europe, around 1400 give or take a decade, there weren’t any people left that you could properly call “Norse”." Read the article: The Other Starbucks Mermaid Cover-Up by Carl Pyrdum, Got Medieval, Aug 31st, 2010

What's the main controversy? Here are some related articles:

"The mermaid symbol on the Starbucks cup is no mermaid at all. She’s really Queen Esther, from the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Esther." Image: By Bernie Hou, 2005. Gates of Vienna, March 13, 2009

From Wikipedia: "According to Esther 2:7 , Esther was originally named Hadassah. Hadassah means "myrtle" in Hebrew. It has been conjectured that the name Esther is derived from a reconstructed Median word astra meaning myrtle. [5] An alternative view is that Esther is derived from the theonym Ishtar. The Book of Daniel provides accounts of Jews in exile being assigned names relating to Babylonian gods and "Mordecai" is understood to mean servant of Marduk, a Babylonian god. "Esther" may have been a different Hebrew interpretation from the Proto-Semitic root "star/'morning/evening star'" [6] which descended with the /th/ into the Ugaritic Athtiratu [7] and Arabian Athtar. [8] The derivation must then have been secondary for the initial ayin to be confused with an aleph (both represented by vowels in Akkadian), and the second consonant descended as a /s/ (like in the Aramaic asthr "bright star"), rather than a / sh/ as in Hebrew and most commonly in Akkadian.

(...) "The Targum [10] connects the name with the Persian word for "star", ستاره setareh, explaining that Esther was so named for being as beautiful as the Morning Star. In the Talmud (Tractate Yoma 29a), Esther is compared to the "morning star", and is considered the subject of Psalm 22, because its introduction is a "song for the morning star"." Image: "Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther's Feast," by Rembrandt--Esther on Wikipedia (Image:Wikimedia Commons)

Image: How the Starbucks Siren Became Less Naughty
Dead Programmer's Cafe

From Before It's News: "To clear up the ambiguity, a creature with a split fish tail is a siren not a mermaid, but some people argue that a double tailed siren is a cross between a mermaid and a sheila-na-gig. Sheila-na-gig is a general reference to female figures that prominently display their genitalia to signify the power of female sexuality and fertility. These images are also quite prominent in the decoration of sacred sites in general and are thought to be a legacy of the older Goddess religions whose holy sites were usually taken over by later religions. The shape of the genitalia in these squatting figures is also symbolic of the vesica piscis, the “vessel of the fish,” which is also associated with Christ. The well-known Christian “fish” symbol (seen prominently on the backs of many cars these days) is the ICHTHYS, referring to the Greek acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” That Starbucks Logo - Before It's News, September 9, 2012

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16 New International Version (NIV) 16 - Bible Gateway