wood inlays

A group of two staghorn and 11 wood ojime

Edo period (1615-1868) and Meiji era (1868-1912), 19th century, Japan.
The staghorn ojime depicting a stained toad wearing a hat and a dragon-fronted mokugyo with mother-of-pearl inlay; the wood ojime comprising: a cluster of four fish; two of single fish, signed Ishikawa and Tomohide; two of monkeys, one signed Ishikawa; three of bats, signed Gyokuzan (the others illegible); a coiled snake; a reclining horse, signed Kogyoku; one a double mask of Ebisu and Daikoku with lacquer details; and a demonic face fashioned from a nut (14)
1in (2.5cm) width of largest. Bonhams

Second Contact

Again, really quick followup to First contact. any suggestions on what might happen next are welcome. I am writing these as first drafts with minimal editing so it is readable, so the quality will never be better than this. sorry.


It seemed that all specie had a near universal belief that there were monsters where no one had been to before. When they were planetary beings, species generally believed the monsters to be in the distant regions on their home, but when their planet was explored, they pictured the monsters to be above them, beyond the sky. But when they left their planet, the monsters moved to other planets. And so on and so on. It was never anything anyone took seriously, more like children’s fairy tales than anything, but the fear of the unknown was difficult to overcome, even for the most intelligent and rational beings.

But  a year ago, Admiral Hot’ath and his crew seemed to find the monsters. The Dareth Were an ancient species that had once conquered hundreds of galaxies. Though it was so long ago, no one knew anything about them other than that they had existed and were a supreme military force that only were stopped through the combined efforts of every known intelligent species in the universe. Most people had even forgotten about them entirely as they had drifted into legend, then obscurity. And now, Admiral Hot’ath was bringing them back into the intergalactic community. As of yet, no one knew whether this was a good or bad thing, and the Torgians were being pressured by other species to leave them alone and never go back. The problem was that the New Dareths, or humans as they referred to themselves, had already mastered FTL communication, and had colonized all hospitable planets in their solar system, and even a few inhospitable ones. It was only a matter of time before they spread throughout the galaxy, and eventually move beyond. It would be roughly a million years until they reached the known Intergalactic community, but it would happen. It would be better to establish a relationship with them now and perhaps befriend them instead of leaving them to their own devices.

Of course there were other Species that wanted to kill them all now, and even more that wanted to participate in making contact. But as it was a Torgian expeditionary force that found them, it was ultimately the decision of the Torgian King, Gil-tetch. He had since made the decision to send the same fleet back along with a military escort and a diplomatic unit.

Thankfully, they were not going in blind. The Humans were eager to make contact with a foreign intelligence, and gave a mass of information about their home planet and themselves to Hot’ath as a good will gesture.  Though the information was incredibly valuable and provided much insight, it was so bizarre, that half the people who looked at it didn’t believe it was real. But King Gil-tetch did, and that was all that mattered.

Their home planet was a bit of an oddity, its biomes ranging wildly from below freezing to above boiling, and its weather patterns being oddly unpredictable. But it’s most astonishing feature was the level of biodiversity it supported. There were thousands of animal species, and just as many subspecies. Plants were strange as well, few being edible unless the consumer had multiple stomachs. Many were also carnivorous, and a few even seemed to be malicious for non-sentient beings, and the intelligence and capabilities of the fungi would be frightening if it was self aware.

But the humans stood out above all else. They did not remain where they were comfortable, they went EVERYWHERE, even  living in hostile areas for no discernable reason. They seemed to enjoy dangerous environments more than safe ones as shown by finding a way to colonize one of the Gas Giants in their solar system. It was like their very existence was a declaration that they would refuse to die and would prove that nothing would kill them. They ate foods that were inedible, they owned dangerous animals as pets, they fought each other for recreation, they would perform horrifying medical procedures that most other species were incapable of doing, just to keep from dying. And it was Admiral Hot’ath’s job to ensure that they would not kill anyone.

He stood on the bridge staring at the screen showing Prison 1. Or as the Humans called it, Earth. The humans seemed glad that his fleet had returned, and had invited them to come straight to the home world. They had already established a connection with the Information network the humans established and was cross-referencing they information they already had with the human’s open sources. They were traveling at .1 light speed and were now entering orbit of the planet. It would be several days until physical contact was made with any humans, they needed to gather samples to synthesize immunizations so no one died from anything humans were carrying, and they needed to distribute their own immunizations to the humans. This was a lengthy process, and it was possible that it wouldn’t work, and the immunizations would kill people. Hot’ath had a feeling that the humans would take to the immunizations just fine. They were incredibly resilient.  

But even after they overcame that hurdle, the Torgians would never be able to set foot on Earth, or even enter the atmosphere. Earth had a much higher gravity  than what they were used to, approximately five times more in fact. None of them would even be able to stand without exo-suits, but even so, they would probably be crushed against the inside of the suit. Most likely, the humans would come up to their ship, or the Torgians would go to the Earth moon or the planet they named Mars. Until then, they would use holographic conferences.

Once they were settled in orbit, Hot’ath sent a hail signal to the planet. He had diplomats with him, but the King had placed him in charge, so their first real conversation was his responsibility. An image of a man sitting on a large, uncomfortable looking throne made of a dark red wood and ornate silver inlay. “Greetings, I am Emperor Guanwudi, Ruler of the Terran Empire.” The man announced, his lips not matching the audio as it was translated to Standard Intergalactic. Hot’ath recognized him from the Current Events file in the Human’s Information transfer.

Hot’ath bowed as he learned to do in the files, and replied. “I am Admiral Hot’ath. With me are Lady Fer-gin and Sir Hot’gun. We hail from the Torgian Kingdom.”

“May I ask how you found us and what your intentions are?”

“We were an expeditionary force exploring this galaxy, it was believed to be mostly uninhabited until our long range sensors picked up an artificial radiowave. We followed it here and found your system. We have no specific intentions beyond offering friendship.”

The emperor  nodded and moved on to his next question without hesitation, revealing nothing in his face or voice. “Why did you stop at Pluto on your first visit?”

“There was an outpost there that was the gateway to the blackzone. Have you not found it?”

The emperor’s face faintly flinched. “No. Over five hundred years ago, it was decreed that Pluto was to be left alone as the only untouched planet. Have you learned why this was a blackzone since your last visit?”

This threw Hot’ath for a few moments before he remembered that he had told them before that he did not know why the blackzone was in place. “Yes, it seemed that a few hundred million years ago a dangerous species was sent here as a quarantine exile. The outpost was abandoned when it was determined that the species was no longer a threat. It was so long ago, that the records were lost and the entire event was forgotten. But our King has suspended the blackzone until further notice upon learning of your discovery.”

“How far away do you hail from?” he asked, as though the previous question was not asked.

“Approximately 200 billion of what you call lightyears.”

The king gave a faint smile, the change in tone threw off the admiral, who had thought that the human was ready to wage war at any moment. “So even in space, there are explorers.”

“Before we came, were you content to stop where you are now? Or did you look to the stars and find other planets you could go see?” Hot’ath replied with a smile of his own.

“True.” The man conceded. “But we do not know how different our species are. How do you think it would work out if we were to treat you as humans, or you to treat us as Torgian?”

“I am glad to see that you act with forethought. I have made many first contacts, and not all species are so intelligent.”

The emperor laughed, the noise harsh and halting. If Hot’ath had not been thoroughly briefed on Human expression during the several month journey here, then he would have been confused. Of course, all species had odd expressions, but this being the most sensitive and dangerous interaction he had ever had, it paid to be prepared. “I thank you for the compliment.” The man got out as his laughter died down. “So, Admiral, how should we proceed? What are your plans?”

Hot’ath gave a brief overview of the vaccination plan, then went on to explain that they would not be able to set foot on any planet greater than .3 of earth’s mass due to their bodies. They will then survey the system’s resources and see if there is anything of value to the Hot’ath. There were other legal questions involved such as how far theTerran Empires borders stretched past the solar system, and how many other systems they could claim, but that was the job of the Ambassadors. For now, he only requested permission to gather physical samples of earth, plant, and animal tissue from each planet.

“That sounds reasonable.” The Emperor agreed. “I would greatly like to establish trade between our people. If this can be a mutually beneficial relationship all the better. I hope to speak to you again soon, admiral.” He pressed a button that wasn’t visible on the arm of his chair, cutting the communication.

Hot’ath nearly collapsed in relief. They were friendly. They wanted to trade. They were giving him everything he asked for.  He had not expected it to go anywhere close to this well.  “Admiral?” Lady Fir-gin placed a six fingered hand on his back.

“I’m O.K.” he assured everyone. The inhabitants of the bridge were al looking to him. They were just as scared and relieved as he was. “Prepare for Stage 1.” He straightened up, giving out orders. “Have Dr Mon-fit’tch coordinate with the human delegates where the survey droids are to gather their tissue samples, and Dr. Brath’thn send excavation droids out to gather soil samples.

After a moment of silence the bridge started to bustle in activity. Everyone had jobs to do and no time to wait. They had made friends with the monsters.

Chapter 3 Gifts

The Giving of gifts is something that you must be ready to participate in, though careful to bring it up first. Not all cultures exchange gifts as a sign of good will, and may be offended if you push too hard. The most important thing to keep in mind is to never be offended unless directly threatened. Whether the gift is strange, dangerous, or conceptual, it is probably normal within their culture and they are making an attempt to show respect. Never assume anything. Always ask a mediator or learn beforehand if a return gift is required or would be offensive. Also be sure to match the gift in concept, value, or meaning.

-Explorer’s Handbook, Chapter Nine: First Contact

It had been two weeks since the Torgian fleet had arrived in the system of Sol. Admiral Hot’ath had finally recovered from the vaccinations needed to interact with the humans, and today was scheduled to finally meet Humans face to face. Though he had been communicating with them via holograph, there was always something different about seeing something physically for the first time. They had decided to allow the human to come aboard their flagship. Emperor Guanwudi would arrive accompanied by five diplomats, three of which would return with the fleet to the Torgian home system, and a small military escort for protection. The Admiral was waiting in the docking bay along with Lady Fer-Gin and Sir Hot’gun and a ceremonial honor guard. They were all wearing their most formal attire, Hot’ath himself, wore a deep blue tunic with silver trim, and the crest of the Torgian Kingdom embroidered on his chest. This contrasted against the Honor Guard who all wore red suits with gold trim and the crest of the Torgian military under the crest of the Torgian Kingdom. They also all wore decorative caps stretched around their oblong skulls. Each carried a silver baton that they kept pressed upright in the center of their chest while they waited.

As soon as the light above the bay door flashed white, the entire room snapped to attention. The Batons raised up in a salute as the doors opened. A security team of ten entered first, followed by the Emperor, The Diplomats two of which carried a large crate, and ten more body guards. “Hail, Emperor Guanwudi!” The admiral called out, giving the Torgian salute, three fingers to his mouth while the other three of the same hand curled to the palm. Sir Hot’gun and Lady Fer-Gin did the same exactly two seconds later. The Emperor approached, and putting his thumb and two fingers together, made the sign of the cross from right to left. “Hail, Admiral Hot’ath.” He replied in an even tone.

The Humans were dressed very strangely to the Torgians. Whereas the first and every other time he had spoken to a Human, they had worn sharp fitting black suits and white shirts with black cloth hanging from their necks, this time, the guards and Emperor wore completely different clothing. The guards still wore those black suits, but they looked strangely metallic, and each one wore skin tight dark green gloves, and also wore long, straight, swords on their hips. The Emperor however, wore elaborately embroidered clothes in several layers, tunics, trousers, vest, and cloak. All in black and gold, the embroidery depicting flowers, vines, and several double headed eagles. The Emperor also carried a sword, this one greatly embellished in black wood and silver inlay. Though he could not see the blade, he could tell from the scabbard that it was straight and broad. Even if it was for decoration, Hot’ath was frightened that this man had the strength to carry it so easily.

Hot’ath knew that the humans were twice as tall as the average Torgian from his holograph interactions with them, but speaking to them in person like this, gave the size difference new depth. It was all he could do not to balk and stagger back. But he stood his ground, and tried to twist his mouth in a human smile, though it felt more like a snarl. The Emperor smiled back kindly, “Close, but I would suggest that you practice more before smiling to a human. They may take offense.” His words were smooth, and as far as Hot’ath could tell, sincere. It was important for the Torgians to remember that from the humans’ perspective, this was not nearly as sensitive a meeting as it was from the Torgians’ perspective. They did not know the massive political avalanche that was ready to crash around them.

So relaxing and deciding to add some more humor, Hot’ath replied, “This is how we smile,” he puckered his lips together so it seemed that his mouth turned sideways. Knowing that he would fail and that it would be impossible for any human to twist their mouth like that, The Emperor of mankind attempted it anyway. Hot’ath and the diplomats all smiled at that and restrained from laughing. “Close, but I would suggest that you practice more before smiling to a Torgian,” he said jokingly, “You may cause offense.”

The Terran Emperor laughed loudly at this, along with the other diplomats. The Torgian trio laughed as well, strange, wheezing croaks emitted from them as their stomachs heaved. “Come, your highness,” Hot’ath grinned that strange sideways grin, “We have much to discuss, and have prepared a meal for you. It is all Torgian, but we ensured that it is all safe for you to eat.” Internally, he wondered if it even mattered.

They all walked through the ship, the Humans drastically slowing their pace so the much shorter Torgians could lead. Their legs were only a foot long, most of their height in their torso, so their hobbling steps were torture for the humans. On top of that, the hall was only just high enough for the humans, but a few of them including the emperor still had to stoop a little. Finally, they arrived to the banquet hall. Fortunately, the ceiling was nearly a foot higher than the hallway, so they could all stand comfortably. The seats though were not designed for humans.

Torgian society placed very little emphasis on hierarchal customs other than ceremony; it was strange to Hot’ath seeing that the other diplomats who had moved around the Emperor all move aside to allow him to enter after the lead security instead of entering in the order they were walking. Similarly, the Humans waited until the Torgians were seated, before Guanwudi took a seat at the head of the table and the rest sat down in a strangely formal order.

“Before we start,” the Terran emperor noted, “I brought a few gifts for you.” He motioned toward the crate that two guards carried to him. He spoke while opening it. “I was unsure of what to give you at first,” he admitted. “What do you gift to those who are so much more advanced than you? Do you even value jewels? Do you care about monetary value?” Hot’ath kept trying to reply and answer his questions, but the emperor continued talking as he pulled a something long, narrow, and wrapped in some sort of shiny cloth out. “But then I realized; if we cannot offer anything useful or even of value, then the gesture should be symbolic of our people. Of mankind. So when you left all those months ago, I began preparing a few tokens. He handed the object to the Diplomat sitting next to him, who rose to her feet and carried the gift to Hot’ath. He took it, slightly struggling with the weight, and slid the cloth off. He held a sword. It wasn’t the practical, plain blades that the Human security carried, but it also wasn’t as embellished as the Emperor’s own blade. It was still a piece of art though. The handle was in the shape of an eagle’s body, the pommel was the tail feathers fanned out. The hand guard was the wings, and two heads clamped against the base of the blade, face away from each other. The scabbard was a beautiful blue and looked as though the eagle was flying against the earthen sky. With some effort, he drew the blade, it was a triangular shape, broad at the base, and then gradually narrowed to a point. The blade was etched with swirls and spirals that shone blue against the silvery steel. It was quite beautiful, and all of the Torgians marveled at it, wondering how the humans ever considered making a tool of death into a piece of artwork.

“As I am sure you have learned, our people have a long history with war, it is something that we are neither proud of nor ashamed of. This was my first sword. It is the one I practiced with and fought with every day until I took my father’s throne.” His fingers brushed the pommel of the blade on his hip affectionately as he spoke. “It is used, tested, and has great personal significance to me.” Hot’ath nearly dropped the blade at the Man’s words if he understood him correctly; this sword has actually killed before. With trembling hands, he sheathed the heavy blade and slid it back in the smooth, cloth bag.

“This is a great honor.” He said as steadily as he could manage. “I will be sure to present it to my king with pride.”

The Emperor smiled and nodded, a strange gesture, Hot’ath didn’t understand. “Second,” he continued, handing a small box to the same woman who carried it to Hot’ath. “Is a gift that has been gifted several times over for the past several thousand years. It was originally the property of a Tsar who had it made to give to his wife. After she died, it passed through many hands, and is one of fifty similar pieces made, though only ten are left. This is by far the most well-known. It was handcrafted by a jeweler who took over three months to complete it.

The Admiral opened the box to find an oblong object Its outer shell was made of multi-colored gold, embellished with translucent yellow guilloche enamel and black enamel double-headed eagles set with diamonds. ”The jeweled monogram of the empress appears at the egg’s apex under a portrait diamond, with the date at the base.” The Emperor finished. “It used to include a tiny carriage that would fit inside the egg, but that has been lost to time.” He said, his tone lowering to what Hot’ath assumed was sadness.

“It is beautiful.” The admiral replied, delicately holding it in his slender fingers. It was far heavier than he expected, but then realizing that it was made of real gold and diamonds, he gingerly set it in the box. “We are honored that you bestow upon us such valuable gifts.” He bowed his oblong head.

“Lastly,” the emperor said, pulling a bottle and goblet from the trunk, “Throughout the ages, one tradition that has never died is commemorating new alliances with a shared drink. If you are willing, I would like to do this with you all today.”

Hot’ath didn’t quite know how to respond. He was not authorized to seal an alliance or make any deals. Glancing to either side at the other two Torgian diplomats, he gave them pleading looks. It was Sir Hot’gun who saved him. “Assuming the drink is safe for us, we will gladly share your cup, however, we cannot promise an alliance. It would be a purely symbolic gesture.” He explained.

This did not bother the humans in the least. “Then it will be to our friendship.” He said, opening the bottle and pouring the red liquid into the goblet. “No promises, no obligations. Just good will.” He smiled.

“That is acceptable.” Lady Fer-gin approved, giving an attempt at a human smile, before giving up and reverting to a Torgian smile. It only took a few seconds to ensure that the wine was safe for the Torgians, and after the Terran Emperor blessed it with the same cross sign he made before, he took a drink, and passed it around the table. Every human and Torgian taking a sip until it returned back to him who finished it off.

“To friendship.”

“If that is the last of your gifts,” Hot’ath began, “Our King has prepared a something for you as well.” He turned to Lady Fer-Gin who stood at her cue.

“As it is generally accepted that you are the most intelligent life forms in this galaxy, it essentially belongs to you.” She began. “However, as you do not have the resources to explore your own property, our King thought it fitting to provide those resources to you. She walked over and set a holographic datasheet in front of the emperor. “He had commanded that we provide to you one ship capable of galactic travel, and all the necessary knowledge on how to operate and maintain it.”

The emperor picked up the datasheet and read through the document. He was certainly not expecting this.


ICYMI - New Binwin’s Minions Kickstarter Update! 

We’ve got a new Reward Tier!

Carry your D&D dice in style with the all-new Hex Chests Remastered: Artisan Dice Box from our good friends at Elderwood Academy. Featuring six different woods to choose from and inlayed with EXCLUSIVE designs by Binwin creator Scott Kurtz!

These Hex Chests are available in a new $225 Reward Tier with a special $200 Early Bird Reward Tier limited to the first 10 Backers. We’ll also be including them in all Reward Tiers above this level.

Or get Binwin’s Hex Chest Remastered as an add-on for $125!

The best part is with either option YOU get to choose your wood and design. Using the wizardry of BackerKit we’ll survey you after the Kickstarter ends to find out which wood type and inlay you’d like on your custom Hex Chest Remastered!

But that’s not all!

As many of you know Binwin’s creator, Scott Kurtz, as well as the Binwin comic’s creators, Cory & Tavis, are massive Garfield fans. We’ve been working with PAWS for about a year on this official Pinny Arcade Pin which debuts at PAX West this weekend. Of course, not everyone can attend PAX West so we decided to offer the pin here for folks who can’t make the show! To add on an item, just select any reward tier and add the additional $ amount for the item you want.

We’re entering the last week of the campaign and we’ll have one more Milestone Challenge we’ll announce later this week. Hopefully, these new rewards and add-ons will help us keep the momentum going. You’ve all been doing such a great job helping us spread the word, thank you so much and let’s keep it up!

A Night on The Town

My @mlsecretsanta​​ gift for @katswatermelon​! A Happy Holiday to you! Now have some DJWifi fluff!


“I just don’t know what to get her, bro.”

“What about an interview with Ladybug and Chat Noir?”


“Got her that last year.”

“Has she interviewed them since Ladynoir became canon?”


“Seriously, Nino. Stop beating your head against the table.”

“I’ll stop when I figure this out.”


Keep reading

Luristan bronze daggers - Iran, circa 9th-7th Century BC

One with flanged hilt still holding the remains of a wood inlay, terminating in an openwork cage-pommel; another with long triangular blade and penannular guard; and three examples with flanged hilt and fan-shaped knob.

In the 3rd and 4th millennium BC, migrant tribes settled down in the mountainous area of the Zagros Mountains of Iran. The Kassites, an ancient people who spoke neither an Indo-European nor a Semitic language, originated in Luristan (aka Lorestan).

Luristan was invaded and settled by the Iranian Medes in the 2nd millennium BC. The Medes absorbed the indigenous inhabitants of the region, primarily the Elamites and Kassites, by the time the area was conquered by the Persians in the 1st millennium BC. Luristan was successfully integrated into the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian empires.

Biwa.  prior to 1876, Japan.  Wood, laquer, gold inlay.  

This biwa is very beautifully decorated by black lacquer and gold hiramakie on the sides and back of its body. On the back are asymmetrically arranged circular medaillons with flowers and tendrils in finely worked gold inlay. On the sides the gold inlay depicts minutely carved insects in a very vivid and realistic manner.  The biwa is a short-necked lute with a bent neck, a pear-shaped body, two crescent-shaped resonance holes, four frets, and four strings which are plucked with a plectrum. Weltmuseum Wien, Austria.

Bronwyn’s fiddle is quite special. Inspired by real Hardanger fiddles, the instrument is painted white with pale blue flower decorations. The neck is dark polished wood with mother pearl inlays. The bridge is flatter than normal violins and there are four extra strings underneath the ordinary ones for extra resonance. It’s enchanting to listen to and quite a beast to play, but it’s hell to tune.