Biwa, Named “Akikaze”

Biwa, Named “Akikaze”
Wood; length 88.7 cm; Muromachi period, dated Hōtoku 2 (1450) ; Gift of the Ii Family

The biwa is a four-stringed lute. The name Akikaze means “autumn wind,” and this instrument’s soundboard (bachimen) is decorated with autumn grasses and a cricket. Karasumaru Mitsuhiro, a prominent early Edo-period aristocrat and poet, gave this biwa a different name, Niwamatsu (“garden pine”) evoking the sound of wind in the treetops of pines. The sound of the koto and biwa were often associated with the sound of wind in the pines. An inscription inside the body says it was carved by Enjō.

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