unsigned five case inro

19th century

Shoki and kamo

height 3 3/8 in., 8.5 cm

bearing a silver-grey ground, decorated with gold takamaki-e Shoki walking in profile with his broad sword held pointed down, his robes embellished with fine keuchi of a floral brocade and a key-fret pattern at the hem and sleeves, his wide-brim hat decorated with placed kirikane and inlaid mother-of-pearl, details in lighter grey; the reverse decorated with a wild duck among water reeds with inlaid mother-of-pearl highlights; nashiji risers; unsigned; with white glass ojime speckled with colors

Shoki, The Demon Queller, is based on a Chinese legendary figure Chung Kuei (or Zhong Gui), who committed suicide when he failed the civil service exam, but was nevertheless honored with a proper burial at the orders of the Emperor. His grateful ghost became a protector of the Emperor, vowing to rid the empire of all demons. The image of the wild duck (kamo) on the reverse is a likely a subtle reference to Shoki's story- in China the wild duck among lotus plants are associated with success in passing bureaucratic examinations (Baird, Symbols of Japan, p. 121).

another view


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site last updated
April 2, 2020

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475