Paul (Pavel Ivanov) Mak (1891-1967), ‘Up From Earth’s Centre..’, 1925
“Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate, And many Knots unravel’d by the Road; But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate” -Quatrain XXXI, from “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám”
Queen Nefertiti was more than the iconic pretty face. She and her husband shook shit up in ancient Egypt when they decided to change the religion, art and culture for the first time in the three thousand year old run of static Egyptian culture. (FOR THREE THOUSAND YEARS ANCIENT EGYPT STAYED THE SAME!!) Nefertiti, while being beautiful, was her husband’s equal and had elevated power. She was one of the only examples of being represented as a strong and loving Queen and Mother in Egyptian art work. Hell yeah.
Empress Wu Zetian was empress of early imperial China. She was, in fact, the FIRST woman to become emperor of China. She started out as the previous emperor’s favorite concubine, then his favorite wife and then a stand-in for her young son after he died…and then she said “fuck y'all i’m running this shit now” and made herself empress of China.
Catherine the Great started out as timid german princess marrying the next emperor of Russia who wouldn’t have sex with her and wanted to play with toy german soldiers all day. Luckily she knew from the start that she just wanted Russia’s crown. After battling for power in Russia’s royal court she managed to flip the table and claimed the Russian throne-even while her husband was still emperor. Of course she managed to murder him, crown herself empress and then proceed to lead Russia into its golden age.
I did all this research on royal women in history because I was tired of seeing Marie Antoinette and Cleopatra being celebrated again and again and again when there is obviously all these other great sassy and stylish Queen Bees that exist in our history. Then I created three illustrations to celebrate these bad ass ladies and the culture they thrived in.