history heroines


Bactrian “Master of Animals” Vase, 2nd ML BC

See it in 360°

A carved serpentine vase, conical in profile with flared rim; frieze of a standing kilted god or hero with horned headdress and hatched hair, grasping in each hand the neck of a rearing serpent, each with gaping mouth and slender protruding tongue, elliptical panels in two lines to the body; supplied with a laminated card clarifying the design.

Items such as this were produced on the island of Tarut in the Gulf, close to the Arabian coast. The carving is known as the Intercultural Style and combines stylistic elements that are paralleled in eastern Iran and western Central Asia with iconography that derives from, and mingles, those of Mesopotamia, Iran and Harappa. The figure is most commonly described as the ‘Master of Animals,’ a hero figure that is associated with the control of the chaotic forces of nature as represented by wild animals. vessels such as this have been found at religious sites, such as the temple of the moon god Sin at Khafajah.


Laskarina Bouboulina (1771-1825) was a Greek naval commander and a heroine of the 1821 War of Independence. Married to a wealthy shipowner, she took control of her husband’s fortune and company after he was killed by pirates. She also had more ships built for her, including the warship Agamemnon.

She was a great force in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, leading naval blockades, battles, and sieges. It is said that she rescued most of the sultan’s harem during the defeat of the Ottoman garrison at Tripolis. She was posthumously awarded the rank of Admiral for her military skill.


A comic book about awesome Vietnamese women who lead their own army?! Yup! And written by Tiffany Dang (Angel Heart)

“ The daughter of Yoshioka Ichimisai, O-sono” (circa 1845), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)

Appearing in the “Hiko-san Gongen chikai no sukedachi”  kabuki play, O-sono is a young woman determined to avenge the death of her father, a sword instructor. She travels disguised as a nun. By looking for the son of her deceased sister, she encounters her future husband along the way. Here, she is fending off the attack of a ruffian. 

My Neuro teacher needs to do a TED talk.

His lectures and slides are on point and he always starts class with a terrible pun. We adore him.

Oh? Did I mention he’s a highly respected pediatrician as well?



Vintage photographs of opium dens in China, the USA, and Singapore. Late 19th early 20th century. Before opium was reprehended globally by concerned authorities during the first half of the 20th century, self-medicinal and recreational opium use and abuse was widespread. Opium as a drug with distinct sedative, euphoric and strongly analgesic properties has been cultivated and used in cult and medicine since atleast the Sumerians of the 3rd milennium BC.

“ Ohatsu cleaning her sword with the zôri” (1881), Tsukioka Yoshitoshi  (1839-1892)

Ohatsu is the heroine of the 1782 kabuki play “Kagamiyama Kokyô no Nishikie”. She serves Onoe, a lady-in-waiting in a samurai household. Onoe being from a merchant family, she is mocked and harassed by the senior lady-in-waiting Iwafuji. Iwafuji finally humiliates Onoe by replacing a precious buddhist relic in Onoe’s care with a zôri sandal and upon “discovering” that said relic has been lost, beats Onoe in public with the sandal. This is too much for Onoe who commits suicide. Decided to seek revenge for her mistress, Ohatsu meets Iwafuji in the house’s gardens. There, she strikes Iwafuji with the sandal. The two fight and Ohatsu kills Iwafuji. At the end, Ohatsu is rewarded by her lord for her loyalty to her mistress and is given Onoe’s name and rank.

Ohatsu’s story is actually based on a real fact : in 1723 Yamaji, a servant in a Edo military household, indeed killed the woman responsible for the suicide of her mistress.  

The First Opium War 

Between 1839-1842 he British and Chinese fought a war that didn’t just involve mass drug abuse, it was specifically about mass drug abuse. The Chinese wanted to end Britain’s prodigious opium imports, which were both propping up the British economy and ravaging the Chinese people. Opium addiction afflicted millions of Chinese—including its Army. So when the British showed up with better weapons and a superior navy, the drug-addled Chinese foot soldiers didn’t stand a chance. Some were too focused on copping to fight, while others deserted in search of more opium. By some estimates as much as 90 percent of Emperor’s Army were addicts.