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Takarabune means “treasure ship”.  It is a symbol of good tidings and blessings to come.

Often the character for “treasure” is written upon its sail and it is always laden with felicitous symbols, not limited to those listed on the previous page. Often the Seven Lucky Sages (shichifukujin) may be seen aboard, or just as easily a host of modern politicians as part of a campaign offering a “new deal”.
Miyamairi with a full compliment of takarazukushi, including a treasure ship with the character “takara” written on the sail.

crane
coral
angel wings
cloves
bales of rice
treasure bag
mallet
hat of invisibility
and
key to the treasure house
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cloves
hat of invisibility
magatama
key to treasure house
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Takarabune by John Marshall
(after the style of maiwai designs)
natural dyes on silk noil
Have you ever tried doing an image search on Ichiro-ya? Simply go to the main page, find the section SEARCH and type in “maiwai” in the KEY WORD box and see what you get!
Treasure Island by John Marshall
natural dyes on linen (katazome method of rice paste resist), 104”h x 132”w
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I teach a course in Visual Literacy. The focus is on becoming literate in the visual clues found in art. So much of what we see as simply “pretty” has much more meaning and depth if we take time to understand all the symbolism the artist or culture has embedded in a given piece. In my triptych Treasure Island, I am attempting to use some of the traditional Japanese imagery in such a manner as to allow the viewer to interpret the story in a variety of ways.
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This island is overgrown with lions and peonies, and we can see the ship is heading away from the island (treasure ships are traditionally depicted approaching the viewer - bringing great gifts). Is this ship laden with treasure to share abroad? Is it a crew fleeing the bounty? Since the winged lion is also a symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist, founder of Christianity in Africa, could this be a colony on the continent (the smaller “Marks” being the converts) sending off a mission ship? Will the recipients consider this a treasure ship of knowledge, or be unprepared to embrace an unsolicited gift? Studying the imagery employed in art is even more fun than receiving your first decoder ring!
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Cloves have been treasured not only as an aromatic spice, but as a very important dye source as well.
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