This Japanese vintage pair of decorative Hagoita silk on wood paddles, and in our opinion represent a Maiko and Samurai. Or, I suppose it could be a maiko and kabuki character. These both date to the 1960's according to the two different sellers we collected them from, and this seems consistent with design and condition, although one can not always tell from the condition. This pair of hagoita are both handmade piece by piece, and their faces and backs of the paddles are hand painted. Real silk kimono material is used to create both their kimono. A Maiko 舞妓 is an apprentice geiko and not exactly same as geisha in Kyoto, western Japan. It just makes sense that in the 19th century she would have been entertaining the samurai. Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or the koto or traditional Japanese instruments for visitors during feasts. Her character was chosen due to the kanzashi style. The lovely Maiko Hagoita is shown as a bust with the collar and top part of her kimono showing, and with all the many appropriate layers. She is wearing the Hana kanzashi made mostly of flowers and dangling flowers. With hana kanzashi, the long fluttering flower is characteristic of maiko. These are created from squares of silk by a technique known as tsumami or pinching and are then folded. Flowers are made from these folded fabric petals and may contain anywhere from five petals to 75 or more on real maiko. A 'hana kanzashi' is a cluster of these flowers, and may or may not include bira-bira and-or long streamers of tsumami petals, fashioned to look like hanging wisteria petals. She wears a lovely hat in addition. The Japanese gentleman shown in makeup reminds me of a samurai, I have also seen some of the men hagoita described as kabuki. However, after reading about the famous Heike Monogatari, I decide this is afterall a samurai with a maiko. Both of the hagoita are beautiful handmade pieces of Japanese craft and art in excellent condition with no cracks, chips or missing pieces. I chose this pair of hagoita as they had some of the more complex design and decorations, and were the most beautiful pieces closer in design to some of the old hagoita.
SIZE: Woman: Length 21.25 in. or 53.97 cm, Width 8" in. or 20.314cm, Thickness about 4". The Man is just a little smaller in length and width. The current weight is an estimate only but probably a good one.
Hagoita 羽子板 ｢はごいた｣ are rectangular wooden paddles, originating in Japan, ostensibly used to play hanetsuki, but often instead serving a more ornamental purpose. These are frequently painted, usually with lacquer, with auspicious symbols, or decorated with complex silk collages. This tradition dates to the 17th century, and although the game itself is now rarely played, crafting decorative hagoita is still commonplace. They are generally sold at traditional fairs called hagoita ichi, which are held in December and have been held since the early Edo period. In Tokyo, they are sold at shrines, especially Asakusa and Furukawa Fudō. -from Wiki
Hanetsuki is a traditional Japanese New Year's game, played with a wooden paddle called hagoita and a shuttle called hane which looks much like a badminton birdie. The game resembles badminton, played without a net. While the game's popularity has declined in recent times, beautifully ornamented hagoita are still a popular collection item. The paddles come in different sizes, and most of them feature portraits of kabuki actors and beautiful Edo ladies. But also portraits of celebrities from entertainment, sport and politics such as Prime Minister Koizumi, Harry Potter, soccer players Nakata and Beckham and fantasy characters such as Kitty-chan and Spiderman can be found on some hagoita. -from Japan-Guide
and Finally from a Wordpress blog by Samurai Dave, I decide I am correct about the characters. I did find one seller from Japan who agreed with me in auction:
Although hanetsuki declined in popularity, the hagoita became popular in their own right as ornamental pieces. In the Edo Period (1615-1867)/ Decorative hagoita paddles were sold at traditional fairs known as hagoita ichi. Hagoita are decorated with portraits printed on fabric and pasted to a paddle in order to make them protrude like a relief.
Atsumori and Kumagai – two famous figures from Japanese history
Atsumori is a famous incident from the epic 'Heike Monogatari' which tells of the war between the Genji and the Heike clans. At the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, a Genji samurai known as Kumagai captured the young and elegant Heike warrior Atsumori. Taking in account the boy’s youth and having recently almost lost a son of the same age, the Kumagai wanted to release the boy but there were too many Genji warriors about. The boy’s fate was sealed either way. Kumagai took the youth’s head humanely with dignity and respect. Kumagai shortly left the life of a samurai and retired to become a monk. The story of the incident has been popularized in Noh and Kabuki plays. At the Hagoita Ichi, one can find many hagoita paddles of all different sizes depicting this scene.
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