History cannon 23 | 015898
The Cannon 015898, smelt in Paraguay during the government of President Fernando Solano Lopez, presents an inscription with his name bringing the memory of a book The Withdrawal from Laguna (A Retirada da Laguna) written by Alfredo d’Escragnolle Taunay in 1872. The author, also part of the military mission that started in Rio de Janeiro in 1865 describes in details the difficulties they had to overcome till they arrived at the Laguna farm owned by the, Fernando Solano Lopez. It was a bloody episode of the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) between the Triple Alliance (Argentine, Uruguay and Brazil) and Paraguay.
One of the main characters in this dramatic story was the guide José Francisco. Among the difficulties of this expedition was the distance of more than two thousand kilometers they had to walk on foot and horseback riding, the diseases and epidemics such as typhus, beriberi and cholera, the lack of food, ending with the defeat and the death of most fighters. The reason to reach the Laguna Farm was food since they heard there was livestock there but they found nothing. The Brazilian army facing food shortage, epidemics and the Paraguayan cavalry had to retreat leaving the sick and the wounded, most of them blacks.
The disaster was not only greater due to the intervention of the Terena and Guaicurus-Kadwéu Indians, who, using guerrilla tactics, managed to stop the advance of the Paraguayan troops. The Paraguayan war ended only with the death of the leader Fernando Solano Lopez in March of 1870 when he was wounded by a spear stroke and hit with a riffle shot. There were many consequences of this war involving the plunder of the country,
a decimated population and an overthrown infrastructure.
In addition, Paraguay had to pay a war dept to Brazil extinguished only in 1943 due the signing of a commercial agreement.
Our first step was to ask “what is the smell of death?”. Science’s answer is a surprise because they maintain that the body after death exhales hexanol, a fresh odor of cut grass. As the days go by, the decomposition process brings unexpected smells such as nail polishing.
This research was developed by the University of Huddersfield in England. It also raises the theoretical possibility that each body, after death, develops a unique odor coming from the unique combination of the liberation of chemical substances. It could be said, a kind of olfaction digital impression.
We then started the process of developing the Smell of Death simulating the odor of body decomposition since we didn’t have access to Cadaverine and Putrescine.
We added the animalic and carnal Castoreum, a musk and amber note with strong and pungent characteristics that remind us of leather, today recreated synthetically for ethical reasons. The accord also captures the humid, grey and cold state of death and a narcotic and opulent floral from white flowers.
That is the cannon’s history and the reasons
it is associated with the smell Death in cannon #23.
These questions are bridges between you and
passages of Brazilian History - past and present.
It would be exciting to have your
contribution in the construction of an
imaginary collective smell glossary.
Are there prejudices against death and its smell?
How does the Smell of Death feel like?
Do you remember a moment you had
to face this smell? How was it?
Since our olfaction vocabulary is reduced can you create words to describe the smell of death?
Could a respirator used in Covid19 change the
smell of death in your imagination?