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The mighty lion is clearly the king of beasts…or is he?  For your holiday pleasure, here is a gallery of octopuses wearing crowns.  Octopuses have short lives and they do not grow to immense sizes, but they are extremely intelligent.  All of the regal tentacles below put me in mind of the Ordovician, a geological age when mollusks (in the form of giant cephalopods) truly were the kings of the animal world.

A Young Lady with an Octopus wearing a Crown

A Young Lady with an Octopus wearing a Crown

A tattoo of an octopus wearing a crown and bearing a trident

A tattoo of an octopus wearing a crown and bearing a trident

A poster of an octopus wearing a crown by Octopus Wearing Crown by Pop Ink - CSA Images

A poster of an octopus wearing a crown by Octopus Wearing Crown by Pop Ink – CSA Images

An tiny tattoo of an octopus wearing a crown

An tiny tattoo of an octopus wearing a crown (Sidney Collins)

A rhinestone octopus wearing a crown (jewelry pendant)

A rhinestone octopus wearing a crown (jewelry pendant)

An Octopus Crown Indicolite Crystal European Bead (whatever that is)

An Octopus Crown Indicolite Crystal European Bead (whatever that is)

A tattoo of a crowned octopus collecting shells (by Jason Stephan)

A tattoo of a crowned octopus collecting shells (by Jason Stephan)

A sweater necklace

A sweater necklace

Retro hand drawn graphics of an octopus wearing a royal crown (from vector graphics)

Retro hand drawn graphics of an octopus wearing a royal crown (from vector graphics)

Decorative art Mixed Media Digital Illustration of an Octopus with golden crown (by Cocodeparis on Etsy)

Decorative art Mixed Media Digital Illustration of an Octopus with golden crown (by Cocodeparis on Etsy)

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The silver-gilt coronet of the 14th Earl of Kintore (you could have bought it at Christie's for less than a used Trans Am)

The silver-gilt coronet of the 14th Earl of Kintore (you could have bought it at Christie’s for less than a used Trans Am)

A coronet is a small crown which is worn by a nobleman or noblewoman.  In the European tradition coronets differ from kingly crowns in that they lack arches—they are instead simple rings with ornaments attached.  Different ranks of nobility wear different coronets.  For example, in England the various ranks are denoted as follows:

Prince/Princess: The Coronet of a Child of the Sovereign (decorated with crosses and fleurs de lis)

Prince/Princess: The Coronet of a Child of the Sovereign (decorated with crosses and fleurs de lis)

Duke: has eight strawberry leaves of which five are seen in two-dimensional representations

Duke: has eight strawberry leaves of which five are seen in two-dimensional representations

Marquess: that of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls)

Marquess: that of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as “pearls”, but not actually pearls)

Earl/Countess: eight strawberry leaves and eight "pearls" raised on stalks

Earl/Countess: eight strawberry leaves and eight “pearls” raised on stalks

Viscount: sixteen "pearls" touching one another

Viscount: sixteen “pearls” touching one another

Baron: six "pearls"

Baron: six “pearls”

If you bothered counting the “pearls” and strawberry leaves on the above illustrations, you will recognize that certain adornments have been left out (which is to simplify the heraldic representation of coronets).  I wish I knew what the strawberry leaves represent!  If I was a sinister & bloodthirsty nobleman, that is not the sort of decoration I would choose for my fancy fancy hat, but maybe I am not thinking like a peer. Other western European nations have differently shaped coronets with different ornaments, but the same sort of rank-by-decoration pertains.

Coronets are largely symbolic—many nobles do not even have them made.  By tradition they are worn only at the coronation of a monarch.  Coronets are important however in heraldry, and the peerage rank of a noble house can easily be determined by looking at the little crown drawn on their shield.

The Coat of Arms of Baron Audley (featuring a mean swan and a coronet)

The Coat of Arms of Baron Audley (featuring a swan and a pearl coronet)

 

 

Viggo Mortensen in "Return of the King" 2003

Viggo Mortensen in “Return of the King” 2003

The 85th Annual Academy Award Show just happened this past Sunday.  While memories of Hollywood magic are fresh in everyone’s mind, this is an ideal time to present a list of fantasy crowns from various movies and TV shows.  I borrowed the concept (and a couple of crowns) from this online gallery, however I certainly found crowns everywhere on the silver screen & the small screen.  Something about the theatric pomp of royalty makes royal headdresses a favorite part of costume & fantasy dramas.

Rachel Weisz in "The Fountain" 2006

Rachel Weisz in “The Fountain” 2006

As is often the case with movies, some of these crowns look far better than actual crowns (which tend to be bizarre medieval or colonial relics).  It is funny to think that rhinestones, paste, foil, and gold paint sparkle more brightly than actual gold and gems (in fact, there is probably a broad moral somewhere in that fact).   Of course that is in only relevant the cases where there is even a physical actor—there were so many cartoon princesses and kings that I only included a smattering here.

Vincent Price in "Tower of London" 1939

Vincent Price in “Tower of London” 1939

Charlize Theron in "Snow White and the Huntsman" 2012

Charlize Theron in “Snow White and the Huntsman” 2012

King Neptune from "Sponge Bob" (TV & 2004 movie)

King Neptune from “Sponge Bob” (TV & 2004 feature movie)

Kenneth Branagh as "Henry V" 1989

Kenneth Branagh as “Henry V” 1989

 

Sean Connery in "The Man Who Would Be King" 1975

Sean Connery in “The Man Who Would Be King” 1975

 

Billie Burke in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)

Billie Burke in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

King Candy from "Wreck-It Ralph"

King Candy from “Wreck-It Ralph”

Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Conan the Barbarian" 1982

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan the Barbarian” 1982

 

 

 

 

 

 

The southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata)

Today’s post combines two major Ferrebeekeeper topics to get an unexpectedly mild result!  I imagined that by combining crowns and serpents I would get some sort of spectacular king cobra or a mythological crown made of golden serpents and rubies but what turned up instead was the Southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata), a slender dusky-colored snake with a little sand colored diadem.

The crowned snake is indigenous to the American Southeast from southern Virginia down through the Carolinas and Georgia to the northern panhandle of Florida. Unlike the regal snakes of my imagination, the crowned snake is a tiny snake which measures from 15 to 20 centimeters long (6 to 9 inches) and lives on small arthropods like scorpions, spiders, and insects.  Although not dangerous to people or mammals, the crowned snake possesses an extremely mild venom which it slowly chews into its prey like a old man deliberately eating a biscuit.

Hmm, not what I expected from a crowned serpent!

In the Northern Hemisphere today is the first day of winter.  As always, this change of season occurs on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Last night was actually the longest evening of the year—so I suppose we can now look forward to the gradual return of the sun bit by bit (even as the weather worsens for the true cold of January and February).

To celebrate winter (admittedly my least favorite season), here is a gallery of winter personifications.  Each wears an icy crown and most of them look cold, haughty, indifferent, or cruel.  I am including these ice kings and queens under Ferrebeekeeper’s mascot category even though they are not really cheering for a team or a product.  “Personification” seems close enough to the definition of mascot to ensure that I won’t get in trouble from WordPress (although, as ever, I invite any comments or aeguments below).

Snow Queen (by Vladislav Erko)

Winter King and Queen (Source unknown)

Old fashioned cartoon Ice Monarch

Katy Perry? How did you get in my blog and why are you dressed as queen of winter?

Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) “Grandfather Frost” plays a similar gift-giving role to Santa Clause in Slavic Cultures

Title Character from “The Snow Queen” by Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Ice King, a villain from “Adventuretime” on Cartoon Network

The Ice Princess Tatiana from Dolphin Mall in Miami.  She looks like she’s saying “I don’t know where you parked your car.”

Tilda Swinton as the White Witch of Narnia (possible pretender to the throne of winter)

“snow king” card

A snow queen halloween costume available for sale online

From the Illamasqua Art-of-Darkness makeup collection (click for link)

I would hang around and make some funny comments about all of the monarchs of winter but all of the white hair and piercing eyes are starting to weird me out a little (to say nothing of Katy Perry’s vacuous stare).  Have you ever noticed how summer, spring, and fall are not represented as maniacal tyrants with wicked crowns?  I’m looking forward to getting back to those other seasons.  In the mean time have a wonderful winter!

Mikimoto Pearl Crown

In the classical Roman world, crowns did not represent monarchy in the same way they later came to during the Middle Ages.  Instead crown and wreathes were granted as an award to individuals who had distinguished themselves–much like a trophy or a medal.  Strangely, this ancient tradition continues today in the world of beauty pageants.  Contests like the Miss America contest, the Miss Universe pageant, and numerous other beauty pageants invariably present a crown to the victor (although the Roman custom has been sadly watered down and winners don’t keep their crown but give it to their successor).

Ex-General Alfred Gruenther presents the pageant crown to Jean Marie Lee of Alaska, the 1957 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen.

The crowns for the Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss World pageant are gaudy affairs made of crystal and synthetic gemstones, however Mikimoto the world’s great manufacturer of cultured pearls also makes pageant crowns and promotional crowns out of their peerless cultured pearls, and some of these headdresses are strangely lovely and striking.

Pearls are formed when the internal mantle tissues of certain shelled mollusks are injured by a predator attack, a parasite incursion, or some other event. In response, the mollusk secretes nacre into the hollow space formed around the injury. The nacre is composed of calcium carbonate and a fibrous protein known as conchiolin.  In the past pearls were very expensive and rare (so much so that the real crown of the Netherlands is made with fake pearls manufactured of fishskin and paste).  However in the beginning of the twentieth century Japanese entrepreneurs mastered a technique for culturing perfect pearls.  The Mikimoto company has been a pearl culturing company and a fine jeweler ever since.

The Cherry Blossom Festival Crown

For the last century, Mikimoto has created many beautiful crowns in order to show off its wares. In 1957, Mikimoto created the elaborate Cherry Blossom crown for the U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington DC, which has celebrated Japanese-American friendship since 1912 (except for a few periods, when the festival was canceled for sundry reasons). Mikimoto also made two demonstration crowns which do not have any purpose other than to show off their art.   The crown pictured at the top of this post was crafted by Mikimoto in 1978 to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the discovery of their method of culturing pearls.  Another spectacular demonstration crown was made by Mikimo in 1979 based on Byzantine models and designs.

Mikimoto Pearl Crown II

In 2002 Mikimoto constructed the so-called “Phoenix crown” for the Miss Universe pageant out of 500 diamonds and 120 large South Sea and Akoya pearls.  The crown was presented to pageant winners between 2002 and 2007 when it was sold to a private owner.  Although I object to Miss Universe for false advertising (only denizens of Earth are represented), the large pearls of the pageant crown are certainly very striking.

The Phoenix Tiara used to crown Miss Universe between 2002 and 2007

Here the crown is worn by Riyo Mori, the 2007 Miss Universe pageant winner

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