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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.
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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!
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This beautiful contemporary furisode has just about everything anyone could want and is an excellent example of takarazukushi.
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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:
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magatama - an ancient bead
hane (hagoromo) - angel wings
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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
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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.
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How many of these “treasures” can you identify?
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with John Marshall
Welcome new friends and old! I've often been asked to write about a variety of Japanese textile and culture related subjects. This page allows me the opportunity to address your requests and to ramble off on side subjects wherever my whim and imagination lead.
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Ichiroya has graciously allowed me to use images from their site to illustrate my ramblings. This is not a financial arrangement I have made - I simply believe them to be wonderful people with whom I enjoy doing business, and wish to support their endeavors. Ichiroya is a web based treasure trove of Japanese textiles, antiques, and information. If you haven't visited them in the past, just click on the icon to the left! Or, click on any of the images below to be taken directly to their page for more images and information.
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