Tree of Life
Tengu as a kite-like monster, from Toriyama Sekien’s Gazu Hyakki Yakō
Tengu, beings characterized by a combination of human and bird-like attributes, are minor divinities with the power to increase the fortune of human beings. Besides their prowess in the art of swordsmanship, they are also known for being mischievous.
Mycenaean, about 1300-1200 BC
From Tomb 83, Enkomi, Cyprus
In the ‘Pictorial Style’
This vase is a fine example of Mycenaean Pictorial Style pottery. It is decorated with a well-observed scene from nature, showing a cattle egret removing a tick from the hide of a bull. On the other side of the vase is a bull with a bird in the air above it.
The animals on the vase are painted in outline, and their bodies are divided into panels filled with highly decorative patterns. These may reflect the influence of contemporary textile design.
Large numbers of Pictorial Style vases decorated with scenes of humans and animals were made on the Greek mainland and exported to Cyprus, where this one was found.
R. Higgins, The Greek Bronze Age (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)
An inrō is a traditional Japanese case for holding small objects.
“Stories are a kind of thing, too. Stories and objects share something, a patina. I thought I had this clear, two years ago before I started, but I am no longer sure how this works. Perhaps a patina is a process of rubbing back so that the essential is revealed, the way that a striated stone tumbled in a river feels irreducible, the way that this netsuke of a fox has become little more than a memory of a nose and a tail. But it also seems additive, in the way that a piece of oak furniture gains over years and years of polishing, and the way the leaves of my medlar shine.”
― Edmund de Waal, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss
mosaic from The Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily.
Literally “burning ones”, the word seraph is normally a synonym for serpents when used in the Hebrew Bible.
Medieval Christian theology places seraphs in the highest choir of the angelic hierarchy. They are the caretakers of God’s throne, continuously singing “holy, holy, holy”.