Japanese image to interpret - samurai with religious figures

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,179
Welsh Marches
#1
I have just acquired this Meiji satsuma pot, I would be grateful if someone can interpret the scene for me, it seems to show a samurai with religious figures. I like the intensity of their expressions!

s1.jpg s2.jpg

s3.jpg
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,417
#2
Not sure about "samurais" – nothing in the appearance of the fellers without halos looks particularly "samurai". No real idea who or what they are supposed to represent though, for now.

A guess is that the 7 haloed figures + the dragon represents the "hachibushuu", the Eight Deva Guardians of Buddhist Law. Add to that the eight haloed figure, which certainly looks lika Kannon (Guanyin) the female bodhisattva. But why she would be added to the group I couldn't tell.

And that's at best an educated guess. Won't claim to have solved this one – but maybe it's a start?

It's buddhist iconography is probably the most certain part of this.

Nice riddle! :)
 
Likes: songtsen

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,179
Welsh Marches
#3
They all have gold haloes and strange intense expressions except for the man holding the emblem, so I wondered if he might be a samurai surrounded by holy men. It was apparently made for the Shimazu clan and was thus presumably aimed at a samurai audience.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
33,738
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#4
The central figure, the one wearing the headgear, doesn't look Japanese - or specifically, the headgear doesn't look Japanese.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,179
Welsh Marches
#6
If one could interpret the meaning of the headgear, that would presumably indicate somehting. He doesn't have a 'halo' and is wearing quite similar robes to the man holding the emblem, so they presumably belong together.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,179
Welsh Marches
#7
By the way - when you say Satsuma pot, do you mean a pot from Satsuma, or a pot for satsumas?
Satsuma ware from that province, which rose to prominence in the 19th Century as a main export ware, often very fussy with a lot of gold. As a result of appealing to foreign taste and of mass production, much of it is not of any high artistic standard. But although this a quite late piece, it was made for Japanese clients by the best maker and is of good quality; quite a lot of the best pieces seem to have been made like this at the Hododa (or Hotoda) kiln for the Shimazu clan.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,417
#8
Yeah, the Shimazu were the rulers of Satsuma province. Choshu and Satsuma were the provinces most instrumental for the Meiji restoration. The Shimazu and the samurais of Satsuma were also the ones that most directly modeled themselves on the UK, including for decades after the Meiji restoration supplying a disproportionate number of officers for the Japanese navy.

Very nice piece, and nice history to with it.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,417
#10
They all have gold haloes and strange intense expressions except for the man holding the emblem, so I wondered if he might be a samurai surrounded by holy men. It was apparently made for the Shimazu clan and was thus presumably aimed at a samurai audience.
The two long-haired fellers clearly have no halos – and so likely belong together as you say – but with the character in the centre having some kind of peculiar head-gear.

Not sure what you mean by "holding an emblem". You mean the dragon's head? I can't see he holds anything. The head of the dragen pokes out in the lower end of the picture, but from what I can see you can follow its body through the picture, snaking behind the other nine characters.

One of the eight "hachibushuu" is precisely a dragon (a naga in the Indian original) while none of them is female – which is why I suggested the interpretation above.