For this installment, I would like to discuss a very popular and enduring set of imagery, collectively known under three takara headings: takarazukushi, shippou (shichihou, nanatsutakara), and takarabune.
Takara means “treasure”.
Takarazukushi is a compound word that, with a little license, means “treasures - all and sundry”. So, as it happens, takarazukushi may include any and every traditionally used treasure image or concept. A great many items, indeed!
This beautiful contemporary furisode has just about everything anyone could want and is an excellent example of takarazukushi.
Shippou, shichihou, and sometimes nantasutakara, are all different ways of reading the same set of Chinese characters. Whichever pronunciation you choose to use, it means “seven-treasures”. As you might guess, it includes a select seven from the above group. The traditional Buddhist version includes gold (kin), silver (gin), lapis (ruri), crystal (hari), giant clam (shako), coral (sango), and agate (menou). However, more commonly included are seven of the following: mallet (tsuchi), cape (minou), hat (kasa), cloves (chouji), key (kagi), scroll (makimono), “ball of fire” (houju), wings (hane), and money bag (fukuro). The total is always seven, but artists use a great deal of discretion in choosing which to include.
A few sample treasures:
magatama - an ancient bead
hane (hagoromo) - angel wings
tsuchi - mallet, which when struck grants all the bearer’s wishes.[See also the key to the treasure house (above left) and the shippou  symbol (below right)].
fukuro - money bag (see also the coral)
kasa - hat of invisibility
Houju are depicted as a ball of flames, or as a circle of flames, representing all one's heart may desire.
Interlocking circles form a pattern known as “shippou”, a sort of shorthand for all seven treasures.
How many of these “treasures” can you identify?
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with John Marshall
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