Shogyoku - Rattan pipecase

Late 19th century

Shogyoku - Rattan pipecase

A rattan pipecase, the thin vertical strands neatly woven together at the base of the case. An amigasa woven hat rests against a discarded sickle, suggesting a workman resting from his toils. The design in fact contains a hanjimono – a riddle intentionally hidden in words or pictures. Here the disguised cipher is 構わぬ – ‘kamawanu’ carrying meaning “I don’t care’ or ‘I don’t give a damn,’ a motto coined by Ichikawa Danjuro VII that reflected the laissez-faire attitude of Edoites and which gained widespread popularity. Danjuro had it incorporated in his costume for a dynamic turning scene where his counterpart, played by Ichikawa Omezo (1781-1833) wore under-robes bearing the opposing motto ‘kamaimasu’ meaning ‘yes, we do mind!’.

The hanjimono riddle can be solved by looking a the following:
Kama (sickle) 鎌
Wa 輪 – a round shape of woven hat – if you look at the hat from above, though the image shows its side view.
Nu – a Katakana script 「ヌ」
– very subtly inscribed as the woven design of the amigasa woven hat.
The hat inlaid in wood with green stained ties and the sickle blade in metal.

Shogyoku - Rattan pipecase
Shogyoku - Rattan pipecase
Shogyoku - Rattan pipecase

Signed in a rectangular cartouche: Shogyoku
Length: 20.3 cm

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