On April 21, 1770, the youngest Archduchess left her family home forever. The moment came when she was to bid farewell to her mother. They had become particularly close in the last few months because the Empress had decided to keep Antoine constantly at her side, day and night, in order not to lose the opportunity to instruct the little bride in her duties of her new state in life. There was profuse weeping, not only on the part of the mother and her child, but the members of the imperial household, both servants and courtiers mourned the loss of their Archduchess, as did the citizens of Vienna. She knelt for her mother’s blessing. In the future she would see her sister Mimi and her brothers Joseph and Max; she would never see her mother or her other siblings again.

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy - Elena Maria Vidal

a vermilion bird

summary: They represent all the virtues, Kaname thinks he remembers reading. Justice and kindness, loyalty and honesty. They won’t stand to be around a person found wanting. They won’t visit impure or unhappy places.

pairing: tanatsu


Kaname wakes up to a tapping on his bedroom window. When he lifts his head, groggily, and squints through the dark, it’s to find Natsume’s face peering at him from the other side of the glass. For a moment or two, Kaname is suspended uncomprehendingly in something of a liminal space – and then, a heartbeat later, he makes sense of what he’s seeing and shoots upright, scrambling across the room.

“What are you doing here?” Kaname asks, once he’s slid the window open and warm summer night air has had a chance to stretch its languid fingers inside. He’s rubbing sleep from his eyes, more awake with every second, and the massive creature Natsume is riding on becomes less and less defined as he does. Still, Kaname says, “Hello, Ponta.”

Before the yokai can get a word in edgewise, Natsume says, “Come with me. I want to show you something.”

His tawny hair is tousled, and his face is chapped pink from flying too fast against the wind, and his clothes are more ruffled than Kaname’s pajamas probably are – but his eyes are impossibly bright in the moonlight, and the curve of his smile is wide and infectious, and when he puts out his hand, Kaname takes it.

(When he puts out his hand, there’s nothing else in the world Kaname can think of to do but take it.)

“Just let me get my shoes,” he says.

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Anna Alexandrovna Vyrubova (1884-1964), born Taneyeva, was a plain young woman when she was first introduced and later taken under special care of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. Till this day the historians are not unified in their view of Anna. Some portray her as extremely naive and stupid, others maintain she was wickedly clever and an excellent actress. Whatever her true nature, Anna was always fiercely loyal to the last Imperial family, who all doted on her in return. After the Revolution of 1917 Anna was separated from what was left of Imperial Household and held in the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. After her interrogations brought no fruit, she was released and went into semi-hiding, finally settling down in Finland near Helsinki. She took vows as a Russian Orthodox nun, but was permitted to live in a private home due to her physical disabilities (result of her injuries from a train crash during the war). She is buried at Hietaniemi cemetery, her tombstone bearing both her given name and the name she took as a nun - Maria.

What is the meaning of Okinawa within the larger frame of East Asian politics, and why has it proved such a thorn in Tokyo’s and Washington’s sides? The island is the largest of the Ryukyu chain, a broken necklace of coral reefs and rugged, volcanic islets that curves for some 700 miles across the East China Sea, from just below the tip of Kyushu in the north to Yonaguni in the far south, from which on a clear day one can see Taiwan. The Ryukyus were settled by the same mix of seafaring peoples that populated the southern islands of Japan, and the languages have a common parent-stock. Okinawa itself is about 70 miles long, and rarely more than seven miles wide; it lies in the typhoon path, some 400 miles from the coast of China’s Fujian Province, 800 miles south of Tokyo, roughly on the latitude of the Florida Keys. Granite slopes, green with sub-tropical vegetation, rise from clear seas; there are spectacular natural anchorages. The soil is poor, and what little cultivable land there is yields a hard living. Yet for centuries the island thrived as a way-station for maritime trade along the eastern Pacific. Intrepid Okinawan mariners ventured down to Indo-China and up to the Yellow Sea.

Envoys from the Ming Emperor had first reached Okinawa in 1372, and actively encouraged the island’s trade. Ryukyuan leaders thenceforth participated in the rituals of the Chinese tribute system: travelling every two years to the Imperial court to make their kowtows, and be royally fêted in return, while taking advantage of the many opportunities for informal trading along the way. Tributary gifts were supposed to be native produce, but an exception was made for the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had so few resources of its own—sulphur, copper, shells—yet could offer such dazzling luxury imports. The warehouses in the harbour town of Naha stored rare timber, spices, incense, ivory and sugar from the Indies and beyond; swords, textiles, ceramics, Buddhist texts and bronzes from Korea or Japan to be shipped to China; brocades, medicinal herbs and minted coins going the other way.

The sailors brought stringed instruments and dances from Malacca and the Indies which the islanders adapted to their own legends. Ryukyuan masonry became a high art, the heavy local stone carved into sturdy yet graceful ramparts and bridges. Above the harbour, the palace complex of Shuri Castle commanded a panoramic view over the ocean and the distant islands. Its steep stone walls and ceremonial gateways enclosed lacquered reception halls, gardens, shrines and the private apartments of the king, his wives, courtiers and concubines. The leading English-language historian of the island, George Kerr, has described the sophisticated society created by a population of perhaps 100,000:

It was a toy state, with its dignified kings, its sententious and learned prime ministers, its councils and its numerous bureaus, its organization of temples and shrines and its classical school, its grades in court rank and its codes of law, all developed in an effort to emulate great China. [26]

The Ryukyu Kingdom’s trade with Japan—the only power in the region to defy Imperial China—was supervised on the Shogun’s behalf by the Daimyo of Satsuma in southern Kyushu. This involved a second set of tributary relations. In the 1590s, the King of Ryukyu politely declined to support Hideyoshi’s planned assault on Korea and China. As a reprimand, the Daimyo launched a hundred-strong armada of war junks against the island in 1609. His forces looted Shuri Castle and took King Sho Nei prisoner. The terms of his ransom were an annual tribute, amounting to nearly a quarter of the tiny kingdom’s revenue, to be paid in perpetuity to the daimyo of Satsuma. In addition he would henceforth control all the Ryukyu Kingdom’s overseas trade—and, after 1634, exploit it freely to circumvent the Tokugawa Shogunate’s seclusion edicts, which closed off trade to the rest of Japan. The Ryukyuans turned to Peking for help, but the enfeebled and embattled late Ming court felt neither obliged nor able to inconvenience itself for a subordinate state. [27] Ryukyuan merchant shipping declined, weakened not only by Japanese rake-offs and the disruptive effects of the Manchu take-over in China, but by European penetration of the East China Sea, bringing with it missionaries, guns and demands for trade.

By the early 1800s, Western interests—American, Russian, British, French—were converging on Japan, hoping to prise open its ports by diplomacy or force. The Ryukyu Kingdom was an obvious—and defenceless—launch pad for such an attack. In 1853 Commodore Perry dropped anchor in Naha, hoping to establish a military base. The White House thought it would be ‘inconvenient and expensive’ to maintain such an outpost, however, and the Commodore sailed on to Edo and a larger prize, having granted the little state recognition with the 1854 Ryukyu Kingom–United States Friendship Treaty. From Japan’s vantage point, too, securing Okinawa was the rational first step in a modernizing imperialist expansion that would soon encompass Formosa and Korea. Within five years of the Meiji Restoration, Tokyo had asserted its sovereignty over the Ryukyus and—through a show of arms on Formosa—extorted recognition of this from China. When Shuri demurred, a garrison force was dispatched to the island and a powerful Home Ministry bureau opened there. In 1879 the now-powerless Ryukyuan throne was abolished and an Okinawan Prefecture established, under the command of a Tokyo-appointed Governor. The deposed king was held under restraint in Tokyo until his death in 1902. [28]

Imperial rule brought a levelling down for Okinawans as the local aristocracy was displaced by arrogant officials from the north. Land reform in the early 1900s abolished the communal village-allocation system in favour of private ownership, creating tens of thousands of landless labourers. Sugar-cane plantations, run by a monopoly corporation whose principal shareholders were the Imperial Household and the Mitsui and Mitsubishi Companies, came to dominate the local economy. Japanese modes of dress and speech were made compulsory; state Shinto and the Emperor cult were imposed; portraits of the Emperor and Empress hung in every public building. Eventually, in 1920, Ryukyuan representation in the Diet was put on the same footing as that of the rest of the country. Okinawans suffered severely during the inter-war period and Great Depression, which has passed into memory as the time of sotetsu jigoku or cycad hell, when people were reduced to eating the fruit or bark of the cycad, a palm-like but toxic tree. They played little role, however, in the militarization drive of the 1930s or invasion of China in 1937. The minimum height and weight requirements for the Imperial forces were above the average for Ryukyuan males, and during the Second World War they were largely confined to the labour corps. [29]

Facing defeat, Hirohito ‘sacrificed’ Okinawa in a bid to preserve the Emperor System and the home islands, while treating for surrender terms. The Allied land assault was launched in April 1945: the ancient walls of Shuri Castle were subjected to continuous bombardment from air and sea for sixty days, while half a million US troops poured onto the island, five times the size of the defending force. To the Imperial Japanese Army, distraught Okinawans were either a nuisance—competing for scarce resources, hindering troop movements—or a threat, suspected of spying because of the incomprehensible dialect they spoke. In the most extreme cases, grenades were distributed and the people were called upon to sacrifice themselves in ‘collective suicides’. At the same time, many trying to hide in the island’s caves were incinerated by American flame-throwers. More than 200,000 people, half of them civilians, died in the rain of fire and steel. After the cynical nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had secured an already prostrate Japan’s unconditional surrender, Okinawa became ‘an immense, neglected military dump’:

Towns and villages were rubble heaps; tens of thousands lived in caves, tombs, lean-to shacks, or relief camps … Farmers became air-base labourers; fishermen became truck-drivers; the old aristocracy disappeared. Cast-off GI clothing, American soft drinks, cigarettes and canned goods supplied a new luxury trade for a totally impoverished people. [30]

The memory of 1945 is seared into Okinawan identity and has shaped responses to the security agenda foisted upon the island ever since. Their outrage is especially stirred by attempts to sanitize history, as happened under Koizumi, by deleting from school textbooks their memories of the compulsory mass suicides under the bayonets of the Imperial Army, and the final orders from Tokyo to abandon all thought of survival. They learned, and refuse to forget, that neither the Japanese nor the American armed forces were there for their defence.

—  Gavan McCormack, ‘Obama vs Okinawa’.  New Left Review 64, July-August 2010

Even in the 21st century, countries like England or Japan have an imperial household. It’s called… what was it called? Oh yeah, Constitutional Monarchy. Although the monarchy is reduced to a ceremonial role, the royal family is loved and respected by its citizens. They are the master of the palace. But what about our palace? I’m sorry to say, but the imperial household is no more. The Korean palace is just a sad, empty space where human spirit is nowhere to be found.

So why don’t we let our imagination run wild? Let’s pretend there’s a charming prince living in the Gyeongbok Palace, and all the girls in Korea are in love with him. How about that?

It’s already Girls’ Day in Japan, so here’s a list of the components of the components of a full hina doll set, along with a picture. (Most modern sets only include the odairi-sama (emperor and empress dolls), which are considered essential, or the odairi-sama and ladies-in-waiting; full sets take up a lot of space and are extremely expensive.) I’ve listed the dolls on each tier from left to right. If you see anything that should be added or changed, please let me know. :-)

First Tier: Odairi-sama (The Emperor and Empress)

  • Obina: This doll, also known as the emperor, is placed on the left side of the platform in the Kanto area (the area surrounding Tokyo), and the right side of the platform in the Kansai area (the area of western Honshu that includes Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe). He is dressed in a Heian Era court outfit and holds a ritual baton.
  • Mebina:This doll, the empress, is placed on the right side of the platform in the Kanto area , and the left side of the platform in the Kansai area. She is dressed in a multilayered outfit called junihitoe and holds a fan.
  • The dolls are usually placed in front of a golden folding screen. 
  • Accessories such as lamps and sanbo kazari (peach branches in vases) are usually displayed on this tier as well. Basic hina sets usually include these accessories along with the emperor and empress dolls.

Second Tier: San-nin Kanjo (The Three Ladies-in-Waiting)

  • Nagae no Choshi: This lady-in-waiting holds a long-handled ladle for serving sake. She is usually standing.
  • Sanpo: A seated lady-in-waiting with a cup of sake
  • Kuwae no Choshi: This doll is a backup sake bearer. Like the Nagae no Choshi doll, she is usually standing.
  • Trays with mochi called takatsuki are usually placed on either side of the Sanpo doll. Due to space constraints in modern Japanese homes, these are often the only other dolls displayed with the emperor and empress dolls.

Third Tier: Court Musicians

  • Taiko Drummer: This musician holds a small drum. He is usually sitting.
  • Otsuzumi Drummer: This musician holds a large drum. He is usually standing.
  • Kotsuzumi Drummer: This one holds a small hand drum. He is usually standing.
  • Flute Player: This one holds a traditional Japanese flute (fue or yokobue. He is usually sitting.
  • Utaikata (Singer): This doll, which is usually standing, holds a flat fan.

Fourth Tier: Ministers

  • Minister of the Right: This minister is usually portrayed as a young man. He usually sits next to a miniature cherry tree (if the guard dolls are not included in a hina doll set).
  • Minister of the Left: This minister is usually portrayed as an older man. He usually sits next to a mandarin orange tree (if the guard dolls are not included) .
  • Additionally, trays with colorful diamond-shaped mochi, hishimochi are displayed between the two ministers.

Fifth Tier: Imperial Guards

  • Sad Drinker: This doll sits next to a miniature cherry tree in a full hina doll set.
  • Angry Drinker
  • Merry Drinker: This doll sits next to a mandarin orange tree in a full hina doll set.

Sixth Tier: Imperial Household Items

  • This tier contains items used within the imperial household, such as lacquered boxes, calligraphy sets, sewing kits, kitchenware, and braziers.

Seventh Tier: Items for Traveling

  • This tier contains travel items, such as lacquered boxes and oxcarts.
Augustus and Livia: Married January 17th, 38 BC

On this day, 2055 years ago, Augustus married Livia Drusilla
Sources agree that he fell in love with her instantly and she attained unprecedented status ruling alongside him. Livia was instrumental in promoting Augustus’s moral reforms and statues/reliefs depicting Livia and Augustus as deities/personified virtues of Augustus’s Rome are prominent in Augustan propaganda. Livia and Augustus presented their harmonious marriage and the imperial household as an ideal for the citizens of Rome to emulate.

Suetonius says that Augustus and Livia “fell in love instantly”, that he “loved and esteemed her to the end without a rival” and that Augustus’s last words were for Livia to remember their marriage forever (he died “amidst the kisses of Livia”- in Livia’s arms)

Other Augustus and Livia anecdotes, in no particular order:
• Livia ranked among Augustus’s chief advisors though she also controlled business interests, properties, and clients of her own.
• In fact, Ovid commented that Livia was so busy and involved in state affairs that she barely had time to put her makeup on
• Livia dedicated a temple to Concordia in honor of her marriage with Augustus
• Augustus had to get special permission from the senate to marry Livia as soon as he did, waiving the traditional 10-month waiting period 
• Roman wives traditionally didn’t go on military campaigns with their husbands, but Livia went with Augustus to Spain and Gaul in 27-26 BC and on many of his other travels. As was often the case, Augustus was sick for at least a year during this expedition - luckily, Livia was present to take devoted care of him.
• Augustus had a frail constitution and supposedly Livia cared for him through his various ailments with teas and herbal medicines
• Livia’s influence over Augustus and their rushed, almost scandalous marriage was recognized by the senate who were skeptical at the idea of Augustus urging them to ‘guide and command their wives’ 
• In his will, Augustus granted Livia the title of Augusta, adopting her formally into his family, giving her his own rank, and allowing her to maintain status and power
• Augustus, in his conversations with Livia, always read from notecards, “for fear of saying too much or too little if he spoke offhand”
• Augustus married Livia when he was young, and they never had any biological children. Despite the fact Augustus needed an heir, he defied Roman custom by remaining married to her for 51 years (until his death)
• Augustus wrote to Livia often when they were apart, referring to her as “My Dear Livia” 
• Livia kept and meticulously organized all the letters Augustus sent to her- In an argument with Tiberius after Augustus’s death, Livia pulled out letters Augustus had written her over 10 years ago where he’d complained about Tiberius.
• Even in the smallest ways, Livia worked to continue Augustus’s legacy after his death, for example: Providing aid and encouragement directly to the people and soldiers fighting a fire that had occurred at the temple of Vesta, “as had been [Augustus’s] way when he was alive”  


Where the Road Ends is the Beginning - Daifuku Week (Noragami, Kofuku, Daikoku)

Kofuku says it was ‘love at first sight’ for her with Daikoku, but how did their lives together begin? I’d like to think it was during the Genpei Wars of Japan, the conflict between the Taira and the Minamoto, two dominant samurai clans of imperial lineage.

So some headcanon pics and a fic for Day 1 of daifukuweek​ . 

[ Where the Road Ends is the Beginning ]

His horse laboured through the mud. Cold rain beat down upon the warrior, seeping through his armour and chilling him to the bone. That, and the thought of his comrades left behind, hurt more deeply than his wounds.

He had wanted to stay and fight to the finish, and had only been able to tear himself away when Lord Tadanori issued a direct command for him to leave. Your valour is unquestioned, Tadanori had told him, gripping his shoulders. But someone must go swiftly and warn our forces in Yashima - the Imperial Household must flee. As one of his former bodyguards, His Majesty will be comforted by your presence.

The Emperor was only a child of six after all, with eyes darkened from crying, eyes that had seen too much.

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Furisode. Mid-Showa period (1940-1960), Japan.  The Kimono Gallery.  A large furisode featuring yuzen-dyed phoenix motifs with additional painted and metallic couching highlights. Five family crests. Secondary red lining, which along with the main outer garment are padded at the hems. On the lower left front of the kimono is an artist or studio ‘seal’ (see gallery detail image), white on red): such 'signature’ seals are rare on kimonos, and tend to be present on more upscale garments. In Japan, the mythical Phoenix was adopted as a symbol of the imperial household, particularly the empress. This mythical bird represents fire, the sun, justice, obedience, fidelity. The peony is the rose without thorns, and so embodies romance and love, and is regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage as well. The depiction of a phoenix with flowering peonies is a decorative motif that dates to at least the eighth century in China.

Painted scroll. Mid-18th century, Japan, by artist Ito Jakuchu. In 1765 the artist gave this and other paintings to the Shokokuji Monastery in Kyoto and then they were given to the Imperial Household in 1889.

Yi Woo was born in Unhyeon Palace to Prince Gang, the fifth son of Emperor Gojong of Korea. At the age of 5, Yi was adopted by his deceased uncle Prince Jun’s household as the heir of that branch of the Imperial Household with the title of Prince Wu. He was sent to Japan for education in 1917. He resisted attempts by the Japanese government to eliminate his Korean heritage, and chose to marry the daughter of Korean Marquis Park Yeong-hyo instead of marrying a Japanese Princess like many other Korean nobles had done at the time. He was perceived to have handsome features. Yi served in the Japanese Army in China, but there were many claims that he was heavily involved in Chinese and particularly Korean resistance groups. Some also claimed he fathered an illegitimate child with the daughter of Korean resistance leader General Yu Dong-ryul. There is little evidence to suggest these claims, but his involvement with anti-Japanese movements is generally recognized popularly today.

Toward the end of the war, Yi served with the Japanese Army in Hiroshima. He was killed as the result of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. He now rests in peace in Hongneung Imperial tomb in Korea.

Rasputin Murdered

The corpse of Rasputin, with the fatal bullet wound clearly visible on his forehead.

December 31 1916, Petrograd [St. Petersburg]–Few figures from the First World War have more myths surrounding them than that shadowy figure, Rasputin.  A self-proclaimed mystic healer, Rasputin had served the Imperial family since 1907, and was highly valued by the Czarina for the effect he seemed to have on the hemophiliac Czarevich Alexei.  After the Czar left for Stavka in 1915, the Czarina was left in charge of the Imperial household and thus had considerable authority over the government.  With the war going poorly and inflation soaring, the German-born Czarina was an easy target of discontent, and much of the blame was also placed at the feet of Rasputin.  Although his influence over Russian governance (and the allegation that he was having an affair with the Czarina) has been greatly exaggerated over the years, many leading Russians at the time thought him to be the root of the country’s wartime failings.  Kerensky gave a speech in November in which he called the government a bunch of “cowards” and “assassins” “guided by the contemptible Rasputin!”

By the end of 1916, Prince Felix Yusupov (descended from Nogai royalty) decided that speeches were not enough, and planned to kill Rasputin, inviting him to his house on the night of December 30.  The usual account of the murder is Yusupov’s, and is not considered to be very reliable.  The oft-repeated story that Rasputin was poisoned, beaten, shot, and then drowned is almost certainly an exaggeration, concocted by Yusupov to make Rasputin seem like an otherworldly villain.  In actuality, Rasputin was most likely shot twice in the torso, beaten, and then killed by a shot to the forehead, before his (by now quite dead) body was thrown into the Neva in the wee hours of December 31.

It is possible that British intelligence may have had some role in the murder, as well; one of Yusupov’s close friends was British agent Oswald Rayner.  There are many indications he was present that night, and some evidence to suggest that he fired the fatal bullet.  Whether there was any larger British involvement in the murder is unknown.

Yusupov’s involvement was soon uncovered, and he was exiled to his estate in southern Russia.  After the February Revolution, Yusupov left for France, where he remained until his death in 1967.  In 1932, he and his wife Irina successfully sued MGM for libel, as their movie Rasputin and the Empress’ clear analogue for Irina was seduced by Irina in the film.  This resulted in the now-common disclaimer seen in films and television shows that “No identification with actual persons (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.”

Today in 1915: Congressman Indicted for Inciting Peace Strikes in Munitions Factories
Today in 1914:  Churchill Proposes Attacks in German Bight, Gallipoli

Today in 1914 will be replaced by a new Today in 1916 feature, beginning tomorrow.

Old Pine Tree and Peacock, c. 1759–1761
J. Rōshō kujaku zu
c. 1759–1761 (Hōreki 9–11)
142.5 x 79.7 cm
Signature: “Made by Layman Jakuchū”
Seals: (Top, square intaglio), “Jokin”
(Bottom, round relief), “Jakuchū koji”

from Itō Jakuchū, Colorful Realm of Living Beings, set of 30 vertical hanging scrolls, c. 1757–1766, Sannomaru Shōzōkan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections), The Imperial Household Agency, Tokyo


In a series such as Colorful Realm, which depicts the most prevalent bird-and-flower subjects in East Asia, the inclusion of a peacock is not at all surprising. Although not native to Japan, the peacock was significant in Buddhist iconography as the steed of Mahamayuri, the Peacock King (J. Kujaku myō’ō).1 In continental symbolism the bird was associated with culture and the nine virtues in the Chinese classic Book of Changes (C. Yijing). In Chinese paintings and craft objects such as lacquerware, peacocks were commonly paired with peonies to convey auspicious messages for the acquisition of culture and prosperity. The present work was most likely modeled upon works by Jakuchū’s contemporary Oka Minzan (1734–1806) and other members of the Shen Nanpin school.
A comparison with works from China and the Shen Nanpin school, however, underscores Jakuchū’s transformation of subjects through the intensification of painting technique and coloration. Old Pine Tree and Peacock incorporates the same sophisticated layering of pigments that generates unique chromatic effects throughout Colorful Realm. Organic-green pigment and carbon-black sumi combine with light green on the underside of the silk to imbue the clusters of pine needles with a sense of spatial depth. Carefully drawn lines in shell-white pigment (gofun) and a verso application of the same pigment and ochre yellow (ōdo) produce the lacelike feathering of the peacock. Malachite green (rokushō) shades the underside of the peony leaves, and red brown (taisha), the reverse side of the pine trunk. These applications instill subtle hues and sheens into their respective surfaces.
Two aspects of Old Pine Tree and Peacock render it unusual among the scrolls of Colorful Realm. The first involves the use of gold paint for the distinctive eye patterns at the tips of the peacock’s fanlike plumage. Despite being generally extravagant with expensive pigments throughout the series, Jakuchū used gold paint only twice (here and Old Pine Tree and Cockatoos). He quite likely found gold unappealing, not only for its matte quality but also for its inability to convey the varying degrees of transparency he so prized. Close observation reveals his attempts to apply the gold as thinly as possible. He also applied an underlayer of cinnabar (shinsha), most likely in an effort to replicate the techniques of traditional Buddhist painting, in which red lead pigment was often used as a foundation for gold paint in order to generate a reddish-gold hue.
The second unusual aspect of the scroll is its use of heavy outlines for the large peony flowers gathered below. Also found in Peonies and Small Birds, these outlines convey a stiff, hardened appearance uncharacteristic of the painter’s general approach to form in his polychrome works. The outlines, however, could reflect Jakuchū’s reliance on painting manuals with printed woodblocks, in which case the outlines generated by key blocks would have been directly transferred to the paintings. Alternatively, they could suggest the influence of pattern-transfer techniques in textile decoration, or simply be an attempt to imbue the floral motifs here with coloristic and technical diversity.
1 For more on the Peacock King, see Masuki Ryūsuke, Kujaku myō’ō zō, vol. 508 of Nihon no bijutsu (Tokyo, 2008).