This Japanese vintage hotate or scallop shell kogo or small lidded dish is made in the liking of the Japanese Kaiawase 貝合 game shells. It is made as a very unique kogo by a Japanese artisan. A kogo is a small Japanese case most often used to hold rolled incense balls in the tea ceremony and also used in other traditional ceremonies and places such as the temple. They make wonderful decorative objects for the home and boxes to hold small items in. Including us, we know many that have their entire homes decorated with kogo here and there, because they can be such works of art pottery. This one looks so much like a real shell, it is hand-molded pottery and hand painted glazed on both the in and outside. The two paintings are rather abstract with part of a temple gate on one side and a shadow painting of two people bending down along the shore in front of the gate on the other side. It is about 50-60 years old according to the original owner from Japan, from the mid-1900's or just a little older. It has some minor mm size well-done gold repair on the back bottom, no cracks or chips in very good vintage condition. A lovely artistian made kogo of a hotate or scallop shell from Japan.
SIZE: Width: 8 cm or 3.1" Length: 3 cm or 1.1" and Depth 7 cm or 2.7
The Game of Kai- awase 貝合
These represent a larger version and not the actual playing size of the game pieces used for the game of Kai awase in Japan. One of Japan's old games, Ka awase 貝合 is also called kaiooi 貝覆. The history I found said that it was a shell matching game during the Heian period, or from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. The matching half of the design was painted on other half shells and they were turned over one by one by players competing to match pairs. Often, a poem or miniature painting was added inside each shell in order to facilitate matching, with the first part written on one half and the latter part written on the other, while both halves were painted with an identical motif. The most popular motifs are flowers and episodes from the Tale of Genji, Genji- Monogatari 源氏物語. Historical Kai awase 貝合 can be found in many museums. The miniature paintings are done in a traditional style called yamato-e やまと絵 characterized by lavish gilt backgrounds.
The game is played with the shells being spread on top of a tatami mat and two people trying to match the set of shells. Later, the set became an essential part of a lady's dowry and various sets were created. Historically, they also would match sizes, shapes or patterns to find pairs of the claim shells. It later developed into the game where people would draw beautiful pictures on the internal side of the shells, put them on the floor with the picture facing down, and look for two shells with the same pictures, very similar to the memory card game of today. It was also said that the Kaiawase shells were lucky charms. making them popular among noble families. This is where the tradition began when princesses would take these with them when they would leave their house for marriage.
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