A Japanese handscroll painting depicting the Yatsushiro Myōken festival. Watercolour and gouache on paper. Edo period, early 19th century. C. 50×4150 cm.
Wooden box enclosed.
The box inscribed: “八代玅見社祭禮之圖” meaning “Painting of the Myōken Shrine Festival” or literally “The Festival of the Eight Visiting Kasoboko.” The festival is a local Shinto celebration taking place every autumn in the city of Yatsushiro located in Southern Japan. The festival has its roots around 500 years back but was shaped significantly by the Samurai warrior Tadaoki Hosokawa who moved to the Yatsushiro Castle in 1636. On the main date of the festival, the 22nd of November, eight symbolically decorated floats, or kosoboko, are carried through the streets, each provided by the surrounding towns and offered as temporary repositories for the town spirits. In the more than forty meter long scroll the eight kosoboko can been seen accompanied by soldiers and people of the Yatsushiro Castle together with horses, lion dancers, and a mythological creature called Kido, half-snake half-turtle, which according to legend carried the temple deity across the sea from China in ancient times.
There are known to exist several Myōken Shrine Festival Scrolls, the earliest of which is estimated to have been produced between 1805 and 1809 by Yoshisato Kai, a painter employed by the Matsui clan, lords of the Yatsushiro Castle.
Provenance: Danish private collection.