Posted by: softypapa | November 17, 2007

Vintage Japanese Shikishi Art Shinto Ebisu God Nihonga



This Japanese painting (nihonga) dates from the mid to late Japanese Showa period (1926-1989) and features an image of the Japanese Shinto luck god, Ebisu.  The painting was done on a rectangular sheet of stiff Japanese shikishi paper with gold trim at the edges.  This nihonga painting is in fair condition with some marks, stains and creases and is a wonderful candidate for framing and display.

Ebisu is Japan’s god of fisherman, the morning sun and one of the seven popular luck gods within the Shinto pantheon.  Ebisu is also sometimes regarded as the protector of small children, a role he shares with the Buddhist deity Jizo.  Legend holds the Ebisu was once a real man (a fisherman in fact) who rescued a boneless (it’s a long story) god named Hiruko from the sea.  Ebisu (who’s full name at that time was Ebisu Saburo) went on to live a life full of troubles after which point he become a Shinto deity.  Ebisu has always been popular in Japan and images of this happy, ever smiling deity are found everywhere in art, masks and statuary.  Ebisu is sometimes depicted holding a long fishing rod in his right hand and a large sea bream (tai) fish under his left arm.  Ebisu is often seen with another famous Shinto luck god Daikoku who is reputed to be Ebisu’s father.  Ebisu and Daikoku are both members of the Shichifukujin group of seven luck gods.  These famous gods (six male and one female) are frequently seen together in Japanese art, often in a boat sailing the seas of fortune.  Ebisu is unique among the seven as the only god who is native to Japan, the other gods all tracing their origins to religious traditions within other cultures.

Height: 10.5 inches (27.0 centimeters)
Width: 9.4 inches (24.0 centimeters)

Click here to see other Ebisu items!
here to see more Japanese art!
here to see additional treasures from Japan!

More about the Shinto religion

Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism).  Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself.  The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.”  Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist.  The Japanese have built thousands of shrines (jinja) throughout the country to honor and worship these gods.  Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities.  Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside.

Shinto gods are called kamiKami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami.  The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii, cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine.  Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope.  The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle.  This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god.  The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again.  In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent prayer.  Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan.  Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.

item code: R4S5B2-0003354
category code: nihonga
ship code: shikishihako


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