Cool Stuff Friday.

all photos courtesy parnassus.

all photos courtesy parnassus.

Located roughly an hour north from central Tokyo is a fairly nondescript government building: Itakura Town Hall in Gifu prefecture. The building houses a small gallery that counts among its collections various obscure pottery work and paintings as well as a glass-enclosed sculpture of a Buddhist deity made from roughly 20,000 beetles in numerous varieties. If you have any form of entomophobia or insectophobia I suggest you don’t read on.

The sculpture was made almost 40 years ago in 1978 by a man named Yoneji Inamura, who was in his 50s at the time. We recently learned that Inamura had passed away earlier this year in January at the age of 98, which is what prodded us to look into his work.

Although Inamura created several sculptures out of beetles, he spent 6 years in the 1970s constructing this one, which has become his masterpiece and the largest sculpture he ever made. When it was done he donated it to the city.

The sculpture, made from rhinoceros beetles, winged jewel beetles, drone beetles, longhorn beetles and other types of local beetles, depicts the senju kannon bosatsu (1000-armed bodhisattva), a popular Buddhist deity in Japan.

You can see and read more at Spoon & Tamago.

Jade suit, unearthed from Tomb 2, Dayun Mountain, Xuyi, Jiangsu (2nd century BCE) (photo © Nanjing Museum).

Jade suit, unearthed from Tomb 2, Dayun Mountain, Xuyi, Jiangsu (2nd century BCE) (photo © Nanjing Museum).

Exceedingly wealthy, the royalty of the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) lived indulgently, and these aristocrats were determined to enjoy their accustomed luxuries in the afterlife as well. While their strong affinity for the extravagant is largely unrecorded in historical texts, modern archaeology has immensely helped to shed light on these lifestyles from 2,000 years ago. Since 2009, archaeologists have uncovered thousands of telling treasures buried in royal tombs that date to the Jiangdu kingdom. They found not only exquisite mortuary objects and finely crafted domestic wares but also artifacts that speak to the body’s needs and desires — including a number of ancient sex toys.

You can see and read more at Hyperallergic.

And last, an animal so Disneyfied it makes Disney animals look woefully inadequate:



You can see more of a Japanese Dwarf Flying Squirrel here.


  1. quotetheunquote says

    Caine, Iris, and anybody else within eye-range:

    Flying squirrels are seriously AWESOME! They have about as much in common with those NYC eastern grays as a chickadee does with a Canada goose. (I would imagine the Japanese variety is a bit smaller than the ones I have encountered here in Canada, but ours are quite small as well).

    One night, years ago, the Significant Other and I were sleeping in a remote cabin on the Sibley Peninsula on Lake Superior (northern Ontario). The cabin was going to be converted to a sauna, but this was still in progress, and the boiler was out on the front porch, awaiting installation.

    In the middle of the night, we were awakened by the sound of many repeated metallic “pings” -- very mysterious. We got up to investigate, and found that a whole family (troupe? flock? what is the appropriate collective noun here?) of northern flying squirrels were gliding in from the nearby trees to land on the boiler, and then scurrying up the walls of the cabin. The “pings” were the sound of tiny rodent claws striking forcefully upon a large, empty, metal cylinder.

    No idea why they were doing this; I don’t think there was a particularly high density of food (i.e., insects) in the vicinity of our cabin. I think they were likely just playing. It was one of the most moving wildlife experiences I have ever had (and I normally only really care about small dinosaurs).


  2. kestrel says

    That squirrel is just so freaking cute it’s hard to believe. But the beetle sculpture! Wow! That is amazing.

  3. says

    Kestrel, I’m with you. I would love to see that sculpture up close and personal. It’s absolutely stunning, and the work involved, oh, does that ever make me seem lazy in every sense of the word.

  4. rq says

    Omg beeeeeetles!!! I want to go and staaaare at that statue for a long, long time.

    The jdfs are cute, too. :)

  5. kestrel says

    @Caine, #5: LOL! And it makes me wonder: are beetle carapaces archival? Will this artwork be saved for those who come after?

  6. says

    As far as I know, beetles are one of the more archival materials used in art work, particularly fashion. Beetle wings have long been used in tapestry, embroideries, and clothing. You have to worry more about the cloth lasting than the beetle wings. Mary Corbet has worked with them a number of times.

    In that post, she links to the restoration of a most famous dress, which uses 1,000 wings, but it was mostly the fabric which required strengthening.

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    The flying squirrel is almost too cute to be real.

    The beetle sculpture is both exquisite and creepy.

    Western Han tomb artifacts are also exquisite, but they also make me think of Gwyneth Paltrow. Should I hope that she won’t order a jade suit for the next Hollywood gala?

  8. says

    Ice Swimmer:

    Should I hope that she won’t order a jade suit for the next Hollywood gala?

    As long as she doesn’t try to stuff if up her vagina, I don’t care.

  9. says

    rq, sorry about that! Ms. Paltrow’s faculty for reasoning isn’t great: “if a jade egg is good for my vagina, a whole jade suit would be great! Oh, my vulva and vagina need a custom jade suit! I’ll blog about that right away!”

  10. rq says

    Now I’m picturing her vagina as a distant relative to a certain phone booth used by a doctor of one sort or another…* Seriously, a whole suit!

    More wine!

    * I will not apologize for my terminology.

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