L. of shaft 12 in. (30.8 cm); L. of tassel 12 1/4 in. (31.1 cm); box: 16 x 8 5/8 x 6 in. (40.6 x 21.9 x 15.2 cm)
Gift of Morihiro and Sumiko Ogawa, in memory of Bumpei Usui, 2000
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 377
Saihai were carried as signs of rank and were used by military commanders to give the signal for an attack. This saihai is decorated with peony blossoms, the mon (crest) of the Tsugaru family. The Tsugaru, who had land in northern Japan, were wealthy and influential daimyo (lords) who were renowned as patrons of the arts. The Tsugaru continue to be one of the leading families in Japan; they were united in the eighteenth century with the imperial household through the marriage of Tsugaru Hanako and Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of the Emperor. The saihai and its matching storage box are among the most finely made and preserved examples in existence.