-Takarazuka (the OG Mizu Natsuki especially) and musicals
-Gothic, Lolita, and various more unsual styles of clothing and jewellery
-Staring at beautiful people of all races, sizes and genders
-Fantasy, horror, historical fiction and the odd bit of Sci-Fi
Hatshepsut: the Unforgotten Princess (1508-1458 BC)
This Rejected Princess definitely falls under “too awesome”: Hatshepsut, arguably the greatest pharaoh in history. Forget Cleopatra, King Tut, or Nefertiti — Hatshepsut was the jam.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing about her, though. Thanks to a sustained campaign by her successors to erase all traces of her reign, it was not until fairly recently that she came back to historical prominence. She was re-discovered due to the fact that her time in power saw such an incredible proliferation of architecture, statues, and art that it proved impossible to scrub mention of her from *everything*. So much of her work has survived to present day that almost every major museum in the world has at least one piece from her. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has an entire room devoted to her.
All this, despite the fact that she ruled for less than twenty-two years, fifteen hundred years before the birth of Jesus.
In fact, speaking of Jesus — you know the myrrh that the wise men brought to his birth? Almost certainly due to Hatshepsut importing it 1500 years earlier, in the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees.
Moreover, she did her own PR. In order to solidify her claim to the throne, she spread word that her parents were told by the gods that she was to be pharaoh. The official story was that, at the gods’ behest, her mother gave birth to her in a LION’S DEN. To quiet the gossip at court, she began her rule wearing men’s clothing, including the pharaoh’s false beard. Once they stopped flapping their gums, she went back to wearing whatever the hell she wanted.
She’s got the pharaoh’s beard, flail, and crook — with the flail tucked away, since she was more a shepherd than a slavedriver.
I forgot the uraeus (serpent) on the headband though! Major oversight!
She is standing in front of The Temple of Hatshepsut, an actual temple that survives to this day.
The lion around her leg is a callback to her aforementioned PR campaign.
The angle of the drawing is super-distorted, I know. I may go back and fix it at some point. I was trying something new, the idea being that the world bends to her.
(thanks to Jenifer Castellucci and Amanda Klimek for help with corrections on this!)
I love watching Ghost Adventures. I don’t care if it’s all fake, it’s just so theatrical and entertaining. My favourite bit of tech is the Ovilus, which is pre-programmed with several thousand words that supposed spirits can trigger with their energy to help them ‘speak’.
But I will never get into the similar Killer Contact. The first ep was okay, a reasonably well researched Jack the Ripper themed programme but they lost me in the second ep when they were dead set on ‘proving’ that Vlad the Impaler became a vampire. Just…no.
Introducing Wu Zetian, first and only female Emperor of China — seen here poisoning her infant daughter.
Now, that’s actually a bit of a historical inaccuracy: the generally-accepted truth was that she *strangled* her young daughter, to frame the old queen and get her out of the way. It worked — both the old queen and the old queen’s mother were executed, and haunted her from that point forward. I thought they’d make good comic relief characters in the movie adaptation.
From there, she ascended to be Emperor Gaozong’s predominant consort, and set about eradicating all other claimants to the throne. Early on, her method of choice was a slow-acting poison made from silkworms. As time went on and her influence grew, however, she took to engineering treason charges for her opponents, summoning them to the throne room and making them kill themselves in front of her.
That’s some cold shit.
Once the emperor died, her oldest son ascended to the throne, and proceeded to ignore her. She didn’t take kindly to this, and had him drubbed out of office, and later forced to commit suicide. In his place, she installed her youngest son, whom she basically locked in his room, so she could rule in his stead. Before long, she dropped all pretense of being the queen regent, and formally declared herself the official emperor of China.
Her reign saw the complete rearrangement of dynastic succession, as she systematically wiped out any and all claimants to the throne. In one year alone, she destroyed fifteen family lines, mostly through executions and enforced suicides.
How did she drum up her accusations of treason, you ask? By putting, essentially, anonymous comment boxes sprinkled throughout the palace. When someone pissed her off, she’d have her servant write a tattle-tail letter and place it in a comment box. Within days, they’d be put to the sword — usually their own. This is almost undoubtedly the most hardcore use of an anonymous comment box in history.
She also had an enormous network of spies and a secret police, who further kept any rivals at bay.
If you really got on her bad side, she would enact the “human pig” torture — wherein your arms and legs were cut off, your tongue was removed, and you were force-fed and left to wallow in your own excrement.
Empress Wu did not fuck around.
For people outside of political circles, her reign was peaceful and prosperous. She left the general population be, and opened up the civil examinations to a wider range of people, making for more diversity in the local and regional governments. As long as you didn’t cross her, she was pretty cool.
She never remarried, although she did end up banging a Buddhist monk for a lot of her life, and took two younger fellas as lovers late in life. Hardcore lady.
The throne room is based off of ones in the Forbidden City, although it’s a bit of a melange of several different rooms.
Her outfit, as well as that of Emperor Gaozong, are simplified, but fairly accurate.
The two queen ghosts hovering around her head are also based off of historical representations.
The baby bottle she has in her hand is also based off of the oldest Chinese baby bottle reference I could find.
The characters on the baby bottle spell “gold silkworm,” a reference to the type of poison she likely used — a slow-acting poison made from the bodies of silkworms.
Anyone wanting to know more about her I can recommend Wu: The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Becoming a Living God by Jonathan Clements.