Gagaku Instrument: Shō, Named “Gen’eimaru”

Gagaku Instrument: Shō, Named “Gen’eimaru”
Height 52.1 cm; Heian period, dated 1118; Gift of the Ii Family

The shō is a wind instrument consisting of 17 bamboo pipes set in a cup-shaped wind chest () with a mouthpiece. It is capable of playing chords. This example, dating from the Heian period, is rare in that the name of the maker and date of production are known from the signature inscribed on one of the pipes. Keishun, who made this instrument, was a priest of Shōryakuji Temple in Nara whose shō were acclaimed as masterpieces. The wind chest, which is an easily damaged part of the instrument, is in this item an Edo-period replacement decorated with designs of rocks and shrubs rendered in maki-e.

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