Napoleon fever confirmed as hat sells for €350,000

Napoleon’s hat, which was collected, after the battle of Waterloo, by a Dutch captain, fetched a better than expected price at auction. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Napoleon fever confirmed as hat sells for €350,000

  • The final price far exceeded the expected €30,000 to €40,000 for the distinctive “bicorne” hat, which Napoleon wore sideways — rather than with points at the front and back — so he could easily be spotted on the battlefield.
  • Auctioneer Etienne De Baecque: “There’s a sort of craze going on with historical souvenirs, in particular those from Napoleon.”

LYON: A two-cornered military dress hat thought to have belonged to Napoleon went for €350,000 ($406,000) at auction on Monday, the latest sale to highlight the boundless appetite for all things associated with the emperor.
The final price far exceeded the expected €30,000 to €40,000 for the distinctive “bicorne” hat, which Napoleon wore sideways — rather than with points at the front and back — so he could easily be spotted on the battlefield.
The identify of the buyer was not disclosed.
“There’s a sort of craze going on with historical souvenirs, in particular those from Napoleon,” Etienne De Baecque, the auctioneer leading the sale in the eastern city of Lyon, told AFP.
Yet despite details that suggest the hat is one of about 120 the “Little Corsican” went through during his 15 years in power, there is no conclusive proof it belonged to him.
Most of them were made by the French hatmakers Poupard in black felted beaver fur, though only a handful of confirmed examples still exist.
“There are some distinctive elements: Napoleon hated the internal band so he always had it removed,” as is the case with the model sold Monday, De Baecque said.
It has long been attributed to the emperor, with records confirming its ownership since a Dutch captain took it as a war trophy after the battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The auction house said the hat was sold with the box used for its display at the World Expo in Brussels in 1897.
It had passed down through the captain’s family until the end of the last century, when it was sold to a French collector.
Monday’s sale still fell short of the €1.9 million paid for a Napoleon bicorne four years ago — part of a prestigious collection auctioned off by Monaco’s royal family — to the owner of the South Korean food and agriculture giant Harim.
Demand for all things Napoleon has often sent prices spiralling well above estimates.
Last November a fragile gold laurel leaf from the crown made for Napoleon’s coronation in 1804, weighing just 10 grams, was sold for €625,000.


Quiet, please: Myanmar Buddhist festival stirs debate over religious noise

Updated 22 November 2018
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Quiet, please: Myanmar Buddhist festival stirs debate over religious noise

YANGON: From grumbling neighbors to witty memes of the Buddha imploring a man with speakers to “stop your noise,” the cacophony around Myanmar’s annual Tazaungdaing festival is revving up debate over the modern racket accompanying religious customs.
Myanmar is 90 percent Buddhist, and October and November are packed with donation drives in the aftermath of Buddhist lent.
The religious season culminates in the Tazaundaing festival, which ends late Thursday with amusement park rides and block parties.
But some residents in the commercial capital Yangon want the volume turned down as religious chants, sermons and entreaties for donations blared over speakers compete with electronic dance music, Burmese rap and rowdy evenings.
“I don’t believe Buddha would like this... Buddha likes peace and silence,” Nyein Myat, a 28-year-old bank employee said, adding that her sisters struggle to study because of the noise.
But in Myanmar, where authorities have struggled with hardline Buddhist nationalists and the faith is deeply ingrained in society, few make an effort to plead for quiet.
In 2016, a Dutch tourist was arrested in Mandalay and spent three months in jail after unplugging a speaker relaying a late-night sermon.
“Many people complain but it is the religious season so it is difficult to complain or report to police,” said Min Saw, a 22-year-old who works the night shift at a shop.
“This season is full of good deeds for Buddhists... but we mostly get annoyed.”
Frustration is playing out online too.
One drawing shows Buddha in the forest holding up his hand and saying “dear son, please stop your noise” as a man races toward him with numerous loudspeakers.
A local artist tweaked Edvard Munch’s celebrated “Scream,” placing Buddha in the foreground holding hands over his ears in horror at the sound.
Images of the meme rocketed around Myanmar social media, drawing mostly praise but some anger over the portrayal.
“We have faced so many noise problems every day but these days it is worse,” said Myo Kyaw, a 35-year-old audio engineer who was eating lunch.
“This is our tradition and I love it but noise is not really good for the people.”
Than Win, a community leader in Yangon’s Lanmadaw township, conceded decibel levels were high but said it is one of the holiest festivals of the year and that all religious customs deserved respect.
“We can hear the sound from the mosque loudly in the evening and if you live near the church, you can hear their sound loudly,” he said.