Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day 10 - The Lady Who Loved Insects

Acrylic pigment ink, gold iridescent ink, and India ink (ACEO)

At first glance this does not appear to be insect related, However! My Lady is the subject of an unfinished, anonymous 12th century Japanese tale, The Lady Who Loved Insects. Her love of insects and reptiles made her contemporaries think her eccentric; though she thought them eccentric. 

Thinking of the lady next door she asks, "Why do people make so much fuss about butterflies and never give a thought to the creatures out of which butterflies grow?" She particularly liked caterpillars. Not caring what anyone else thought of her, she kept insects as pets and did not conform to the beauty customs of the day. She also named all the little boys in her neighborhood after insects.

Art Notes!

I styled this after tale illustrations from the Heian period, when this tale was written.

A: Silk Worm Racks
Silk worms are kept in baskets or on basket trays on a rack, as pictured here (though most are rectangular for practicality). I found no Heian example, however silk worms were farmed back then. I imagine the lady could have kept a myriad of caterpillar species in something similar. The basket trays are also full of leaves for the caterpillars.

B: Incubator
In silk worm farming, a similar structure was used to hatch the eggs at the turn of the last century. The temperature was regulated in the cabinet below the racks. I'm not sure how far back this practice goes, and again, there are no Heian examples. Being clever and attuned to the natural world, however, it is plausible the lady could have fashioned someplace to separate the eggs. The tale says she had many containers and cages for her pets.

C: Silk Worm
Caterpillars are her favorite, and this totally counts as an insect drawing!

D: Robes
Heian robes were layered in different colors. The colors I used are an approximation of the "ruffled iris" layering. Her outer robe features cicadas (also counts for insect drawing!). Heian textiles were pretty sophisticated and included complex patterns, weaves, and embroidery.

E: Cricket Cage
Her insect cages may have looked similar. Mine is based on an "antique" cricket cage, age unknown.

Side Bar: This took nearly all day to complete...whew!

[January 10, 2016]

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