Gagaku Instrument: Sho, Named “Gen’eimaru”

Gagaku Instrument: Sho, Named “Gen’eimaru”
Bamboo mouth organ
By Priest Keishun of Shoryakuji Temple, Nara
Heian period, dated 1118
Gift of Ii Family

The sho is a musical instrument made of 17 bamboo pipes bunched together. It is capable of playing chords. This very early example dating from the Heian period is extremely rare in that the name of the maker and date of production is known from the mei signature scribed on one of the bamboo pipes. The pipes are inserted into an Edo-period wooden base with a mouthpiece. It is decorated with designs of rocks and shrubs rendered in makie.

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