This item is a set of two Heiji/Heishi (瓶子). It is a container for holding alcohol and pouring it into a cup. It has an elongated shape, with a swollen upper part and a narrow lower part, with a small mouth. Since the early modern period, after Sake became popular, Heijis were increasingly used as tools for rituals and celebrations. There are Suyaki (素焼き, unglazed pottery), metal, and ceramic ones. Today, it is often referred to as a white Suyaki or pottery with a lid used for offering Miki (神酒, sacred Sake) before the gods.
The Heijis we introduce here are pqinted with black lacuqer. And the Hidari Mitsu-Domoe (左三つ巴) pattern is depicted on each Heiji with the *Makie (蒔絵) technique. There are several theories about the origin of this design. According to an idea, it was modeled on the shape of the Magatama (勾玉, comma-shaped bead), or it was based on the swirling of flowing water. It is also said that the Tomoe pattern comes from the Tomo (靹). It is a tool attached to the inside of the left wrist when shooting a bow to prevent the bowstring from hitting the arm or bracelet after shooting an arrow. The Tomoe pattern represents water, so people treated it as a talisman to prevent fire. It was often applied to the roof tiles of shrines. It is because people believed the Tomoe design would exorcize evil spirits. The design of two Magatama-shaped commas is called Futatsu-Tomoe (二つ巴), and the pattern with three commas is called Mitsu-Domoe (三つ巴), as seen here.
This motif also has been used for family crests. For example, Shimizu Muneharu (清水宗治, 1537-1582) used the Mitsu-Domoe design. He fought against Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉, 1537-1598) for he served. However, the battle situation was not good, and Muneharu thought he could no longer win. Then he decided to obey Hideyoshi’s request. He saved the lives of his subordinate soldiers by committing Hara-kiri (腹切り, also known as Seppuku, ritual act of killing oneself by cutting one’s stomach open with a sword). A theory says the idea that the Seppuku was an honor of Samurai was taken root among Samurais due to Muneharu’s graceful attitude. We are unsure if the Hidari Mitsu-Domoe pattern was incorporated on these Heijis are directly related to Muneharu. However, we estimate this design was used here as a family crest.
*Makie……A typical Japanese lacquer art technique developed uniquely in Japan for about 1200 years. Firstly, it needs to draw a picture with lacquer on the surface with a thin brush. Next, sprinkle the gold powder from above to show the pattern before the lacquer hardens. This technique makes a gorgeous and elegant look to works.
*As this item is an antique, please check each photo and ensure its condition.
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【How to make sure the condition】
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