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$1.65 Million Chess Set Recreates Battle of Issus

Whether you’re into fantasy books or videogames, there’s a novelty chess set out there for every type of nerd. This set, currently for sale from M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, is perfect for history geeks. The price tag? A whopping $1.65 million, Forbes reports.

The item, titled "Battle of Issus" after Alexander the Great’s second battle with the Persian army in 333 BCE, is a board game that doubles as a precious piece of art. Crafted in the late 20th century, each 14-karat gold piece stands in for a character or structure from the battle.

A jewel-encrusted King Darius III and Alexander the Great represent the kings on opposite sides of the board, while the Persian god of war and the Greek goddess of war and wisdom (Athena) assume the roles of their respective queens. When the base of each piece is twisted, a special mechanism is triggered, like the swinging of a sword or the rowing of a ship’s oars.

The board itself is also an example of master craftsmanship. The surface is checkered with pink rhodonite and green malachite, and the base’s perimeter depicts action scenes from the battle. It took a jeweler over 14,000 hours over the course of a decade to craft each detail by hand.

The final product contains nearly 9 pounds of 14-karat gold, 5 pounds of 24-karat gold, 11 pounds of silver, 320 grams of garnets, and accents of pearls, rose quartz, and turquoise. If you don’t have a space in your home worthy of such a game, M.S. Rau Antiques has got you covered: The purchase includes a mahogany table and two 19th-century leather upholstered chairs.

[h/t Forbes]

All images: M.S. Rau Antiques

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Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Design
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
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Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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