It is a bronze incense burner with a long handle. The circular bowl is a brazier, in which incense is burnt in Shinto rituals. The brazier has a fluted mouth and double-lines on the outside body. A circular foot, in a chrysanthemum shape, is attached to the brazier. There is a support that connects between the brazier and the foot. The brazier’s lid has an intricate openwork design of lotus flower scrolls with a knob in the shape of a lotus bud. The rim has an incised, stylized design of clouds. The mounting between the brazier and the handle is in the shape of Buddhist jewel with two semi-precious stones. The handle has carved lotus flower scrolls, and the end of which is bent at a right angle and joined to a round pedestal. Rising from the pedestal is a small statue of a lion on a lotus-shape pedestal, which serves as a knob handgrip when the incense burner is held.
In Japanese Buddhist rituals, a long-handled censer, egôro, signifies the celebrant’s authority. In processions the chief priest leads the other monks, holding an egôro. During the ritual, he frequently picks up the egoro and places it in front of the image of deity to offer incense to the deity. Fumigation is believed to clear evil sprit.
This beautiful, gilded egôro was used in rituals of Japan’s indigenous Shintô religion. Since the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in 7th century, Shinto adopted many aspects of Buddhist practices and representations. The UMMA egôro has familiar Buddhist motifs, such as a lion on the knob handgrip, lotus flowers on the brazier lid and the handle, and a stylized jewel shape on the mounting between the brazier and the handle.
The armor is comprised of a round helmet with a neck protector and a crescent-moon shaped ornament; a mask with fake mustache; an upper-body protector with sleeves from waist down and paulownia crest in the middle; a thigh cover; two metal leg protectors; two arm and hand protectors. The suit is stored in a black lacquered box with the gold crest.
The helmet is made of red-painted metal lined with indigo-died cotton fabric and deer skin leather trim, which is attached to the metal helmet. The cotton is quilted with indigo-dyed cotton threads. There are two loops on side and one loop in the back, to hold a code for tying below the wearer’s chin. The code is indigo-dyed and then plaited; there are some fading areas. On the outside of helmet, the paulownia crest is on side flaps (to protect ears). There is a hole in the middle of the helmet for a head ornament. The metal leaves are interlaced with cotton strings. Ceremonial knots of yellow code on the back. It weights about 10 pounds.
The helmet ornament is in crescent moon shape and made of lacquered wood in gold color. There is a slot on the back to place the ornament in the helmet. The slot is nailed to the wood; it looks like a later creation.
The mask covers below the wearer’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth, and down to front neck. The upper part is made of metal; the neck is in metal pieces and cotton codes. The mustache is made of animal hair. The mouth has fake teeth painted with gold.
The arm and hand protectors are made of red-painted metal shell and silk fabric with small flower motifs lined with deerskin and indigo-dyed cotton fabric. The shell is consisted of small metal panels connected with chains. The hand protectors have three different crests. The protectors are tied with indigo dyed cotton codes on back.
The leg protectors are also made of red-painted metal with silk fabric lining. On the metal surface of each piece, there are the artist’s signature and seal.
The body is consisted of metal panels, lacquered with gold in design of peonies and vines. The family crest appears in the middle. Metal knots are in chrysanthemum design. Inside is lined with leather printed with lions and peonies. The shoulder pads are made of cotton quilt in tortoise shell design.
The apron for thighs is made of silk fabric quilt and metal panels. The metal panels protect thighs. The apron belt is made of cotton kasuri; the back is lined with indigo dyed cotton.
The thick belt for the body is made of padded silk fabric.
Elaborate suit of armors were produced since the mid-Heian period (794 - 1185) throughout the Edo period (1615 - 1868) in Japan. Battle field was a place to show one's wealth and lineage, as well as heroism; armors thus embodied sophisticated taste and high craftsmanship. Often times flamboyance was emphasized more than practicality. The large crescent-moon ornament on the helmet here is a good example. The family crests such as this paulownia crest are often decorated on the armor since they indicate the lineage of the samurai. The household of this armor's original owner may have been a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a military ruler of Momoyama period (1583-1615).
The dark color pallette and black strip across the top indicate that the image is set at night. A mountain with pine trees and steps leading to the top loom over the image. The sea appears behind the mountain in the distance.
The pyramid shaped hills in the background of this print are those of the boiling houses and salt piles of Gyôtoku’s salt industry. A ferry boat, or watashi-bune, carries passengers in the foreground of this picture. In this print a shipman steers using the large rudder located in the back of the boat.
Salt was an important commodity during the Edo period. It was used in a number of rituals and as a method of purification: to this day salt is used to purify the sumo ring before the beginning of a match. One of the most important uses of salt was in the preservation of food, in particular fish. In Edo the price of salt was high, as the long, flat, hard-packed beaches at Gyôtoku were one of the only places in the area suitable for harvesting this precious resource.
The pyramid shaped hills in the background of this print are those of the boiling houses and salt piles of Gyôtoku’s unique industry. Gyôtoku was also the final destination for many ferry boats that ran along the network of Edo canals. One such boat, or watashi-bune, carries passengers in the foreground of this picture. It was typical for two shipmen to pilot these ferries. In this print one steers using the large rudder located in the back of the boat. Long bamboo poles were also used to pilot watashi-bune through shallow waters.
Woodcut print. Title in a red rectangle in the upper right hand corner of the print. Colors are primarily greens and blues for the landscape and clothing, while the hats and straw mats are a faded yellow, and the trees are a solid brown.
Group of three travelers walking along a path (the Tokaido Road) underneath trees. Another group of travelers is seated to the left under a tree. To the right is a man reclining under another tree. The road extends in the background into the distance, noticable by the line of trees that follow it. Smaller images of other travelers can be seen in the distance.
This piece depicts boats decorated with lanterns, the evening sky and festivities. The shore is lined with teahouses set up for the event. The title for the print is located in the upper right corner in a red box.
The series Rokujuhoshu meisho zue depicts a famous place from each of the 68 provinces and the capital, Edo. Each of the 69 prints in this series, and the contents page, is a vertical composition.
In Tsushima, Aichi Province, on June 14th and 15th a festival is held, called Tenno Matsuri. Teahouses like the ones seen in this print would have been set up along the riverbank for the occasion in honor of the deity Gozu Tenno. This piece depicts boats decorated with lanterns, which would normally have close to 400 paper lanterns, decorating the evening sky and festivities. This particular arrangement is based off of the 1844 illustration "rokugatsu jyuyon nichi yuu" by Odagiri Shunko, from Owari Meisho Zue.
This print illustrates a scene in a jôruri play based on history. Ishidômaru is the childhood name of a figure better known to history as Kûkai, the early 9th-century founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. In this scene, the child Ishidômaru has come to the remote mountain of Mt. Kôya in search of his father, a warrior who had taken the tonsure. When the two finally met, the father refused to recognize his son. The rejection of family ties was one of the basic tenets of monastic life in Buddhism.
This vertical print frames a view of a landscape with an up close view of a bird in the upper right corner that takes up about thirty percent of the image.
The viewer is positioned alongside the bird, circling the sky above the twin peaks of a mountain. A crate floats in the water below while smaller birds flocking around it. Snow covers the ground.
The signature and title markings are in the upper right corner, and in the middle along the left side above the landscape.
In this series Hiroshige combines his mastery of kacho-e and landscapes, while incorporating innovative compositions and color choices. His use of vertical format literally turned ukiyo-e on its side, transforming the traditional horizontal structure of woodblock prints. He also makes use of striking figure-ground framing techniques, of which this print, Fukugawa, Ten-million Tsubo Plain at Suzaki, may be the most famous example.
The viewer is positioned alongside a black kite, or tonbi, circling the sky above the twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba. In Japanese culture the tonbi is understood as an inexorable hunter and scavenger, and her favorite food is fabled to be abura age, or thin pieces of fried tofu. This tonbi may be after a floating crate of abura age below or the smaller birds flocking around it.
Several travellers are walking along the river. There are trees on both sides of the road. A big round moon is above the village houses in the distance. One the other side of the river is a lush forest.
The snow scene of a village under the mountain. The house roofs, the bridge over the river, the mountain and trees are all covered by the snow. Three birds fly above the riverbank, lingering around the snow-covered pine branches.
A village by a lake is shown in the snow. Several travelers are walking in the streets. The snow is steadily fallling and covers their hats, the roofs of the houses, the trees and the mountains. The title is in the upper right corner in a red box.
A procession enters the village of Fujikawa, the 37th stop along the Tokaido Road. Many feudal lords travelled the road, so many stations, much like Fujikawa, would have had multiple inns for travelers.
In the main street of Goyu village at nightfall, female touts aggressively solicit travelers by dragging them into the tea-house on the right, where one is already resting. The large circle on the wall bears the sign of the publisher of the series, Take-no-Uchi, which was omitted in later issues. On the sign-boards inside are given the names of the engraver, Firobei; the printer, Heibei; and the artist, Ichiryusai.