Small lacquered wooden box in the shape of an eggplant. Top of the fruit near the leaves painted with silver pigments. Interior painted with gold pigments, signature in the center partly erased: ka?e (か?エ).
Transport box included.
A kôgô is an incense box used in Japan during the tea ceremony. Made of glazed clay, lacquered wood or white porcelain, it often represents animals, plants of human figures.
The eggplant has a particular symbolism in Japan, especially with the hatsuyume (first dream of the new year). Traditionally, this dream is supposed to predict the luck of the dreamer in the following year. Since the Edo period, the popular belief is that a dream of Mount Fuji, a falcon and an eggplant is a very good omen. A Japanese formula summarizes the principle of hatsuyume: Ichi-Fuji, Ni-Taka, San-Nasubi (“1. Mount Fuji, 2. Falcon, 3. Eggplant”).
The first dream is widely spread during the Edo period. Nevertheless the origin of this tradition remains unknown. Several hypotheses exist. According to a version attributed to Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), this formula comes from the ancient province of Suruga: it would be the three highest thing of the province: Mount Fuji, Mount Ashitaka (ending with “taka” wich means “hawk”) and the very high price of the first eggplants.
Other hypotheses emphasize the symbolic significance of the three elements: the sacredness of Mount Fuji, the strength and intelligence of the falcon, the homonymy of the word eggplant and the verb “to accomplish” (nasu).
It is also possible that this formula comes from the city of Komagone, home of the Komagone Fuji-jinja, a temple from where it was possible to observe Mount Fuji. The remains of the falconer’s house established by the shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa (1684-1751) were also revealed by excavations conducted in the 1970s. Finally, Komagone was during the Edo period a land of eggplant production.
Japan – Showa era (1926-1989)
Length 3.2 in (8 cm) – width 1.3 in (3.3 cm) – height 2.1 in (5.3 cm)