The theme is described as Shô no Zuki 笙図小柄. The shô (笙) is a Japanese musical (reed) instrument that was introduced from China during the Nara period (AD 710 to 794). It is modeled on the Chinese sheng, although the shô tends to be smaller in size. It consists of 17 slender bamboo pipes, each of which is fitted in its base with a metal reed. Two of the pipes are silent, although research suggests that they were used in some music during the Heian period. The instrument’s sound is said to imitate the call of a phoenix, and it is for this reason that the two silent pipes are kept, as an aesthetic element, making two symmetrical “wings”. The head of the shô flute (笙) shows an iroe ornamentation of a five-leaved sasa crest, and to the side of it, the mouthpiece is seen. The bamboo pipes are tied up with two fittings and along the base of the central two pipes, numerous small fingerholes are opened. All in all, the piece is interpreted in a very realistic manner.
The combination of a sho flute and a hagoromo (羽衣, angel´s raiment or clothing) refers to the so-called “Legend of Hagoromo“ (hagoromo-densetsu, 羽衣伝説), one of Japan’s most famous Noh plays. The magic feather mantle of a celestial maiden is stolen by a fisherman of Miho and she is not able to return to heaven without it. He agrees to return it if he can see all or part of her dance. The kozuka might allude to the scene where the beautiful maiden (ten´nyo, 天女) returns to the Heaven accompanied by the music of the sho flute wh her hagoromo flutters gently behind. The gentle and soft hue of the shakudo reflects thilee maiden´s sentiment.
There is famous scene by Hiroshige depicts the beach at Miho where they play is said to have taken place.
Renjô moved to Edô at the request of the 4th Tokugaea shogun Ietsuna. He lived in what is now known as Kanda. Renjo was succeeded by Gotô Tsûjô. He and Tsûjô did not get on well and quaralled often. It is said that Renjô did not pass on many of the Gotô secrets to Tsûjô and as a result, many of the old secrets of the Gotô family were lost.
Length 97.1mm width 9,5mm
NBTHK Hozon Kanteisho
Information on “Legend of Hagoromo“ by Tomoriki Imazu. Translation by Markus Sesko. Additional information sourced from Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh%C5%8D_(instrument)
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