Saddle with Turnip Design

Saddle with Turnip Design
Signed “Masanaga”; Height of front arch or pommel (maewa) 27.9 cm, height of back arch or cantle (shizuwa) 27.1 cm; dated Kyōhō 4 (1719); Gift of the Ii Family

A turnip design is rendered in maki-e and mother-of-pearl inlay on a gold “pear-skin” ground. Kabu (turnip) is a homonym for “head” or “leader,” so the vegetable was considered a symbol of good luck among samurai. This saddle was given to thirteenth daimyo Ii Naosuke (1815–1860) by fourteenth shogun Tokugawa Iemochi in 1858. It was originally used by eighth shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune and had remained in the Tokugawa family since then. The date and signature are engraved on the back of the igi (contoured side bars of the saddle).

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