Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Round Box with Design of Bugaku Dance Hat and Musical Instrument

Yamada Jōkasai (1681–1704)
Edo period (1615–1868)
19th century
Lacquer on wood with gold, mother-of-pearl inlay, and colored lacquer
H. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm); Diam. 3 in. (7.6 cm)
Credit Line:
The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936
Accession Number:
36.100.159a, b
Not on view
The meticulously crafted images of a brocade hat and mouth organ that adorn this box resonate multiple auspicious associations. The hat bears a medallion depicting a phoenix, and its shape suggests the head of this fabled bird of ancient Chinese legend, said to appear only during a just reign. It is worn in the Bugaku dance Manzairaku (Happiness of Ten Thousand Years) by dancers whose graceful movements in large-sleeved robes of brilliant red evoke the appearance of the phoenix. The shape of the mouth organ resembles a phoenix resting with folded wings, and its tone lends an ethereal harmony to the dance's musical accompaniment. Together they signal the august aura of the imperial court and the legacy of ancient China, where these legends, dances, and music originated.
Signature: Jokasai
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