Gagaku Instrument: Hichiriki, Named “Tamazasa”

Gagaku Instrument: Hichiriki, Named “Tamazasa”
Length 18.1 cm; Edo period, 18th century; Gift of the Ii Family

The hichiriki, a short, double-reed woodwind, is a rather plain-looking instrument, but its case and box are often adorned with elaborate craftsmanship, as illustrated by this example. Demonstrating the owner’s fondness or the instrument, “Tamazasa” is kept in a brocade sleeve that fits into an inner case decorated with maki-e designs of auspicious pine, bamboo, and plum, as well as mandarin ducks. The case fits into a brocade bag with decorative cording and knots, and the bag is stored in a lacquerware box covered with maki-e designs of pine, bamboo, plum, and crane. The instrument was a present from Prince Shōgoin-no-miya Einin to the nobleman Aburanokōji Takamichi.

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