This item is an antique Yatate (矢立て). The ink pot has a lid that can be opened and closed. A tree of cherry blossom and two cranes are depicted, and we could see the Mei (銘, engraved inscription) of its maker: Fujiwara Mitsunaga (藤原 光長). A decoration is also attached to the tip of the cylindrical part that appears to be a bird’s head. We estimate it also represents a crane.
You would find that dragons are engraved on the side of the ink pot. Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions and myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbolic beast of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers and ears are cows. It was thought that the dragon would reign at the top of all animals because of its odd-looking appearance. If you focus on one side of the dragon’s hand, you would find that this dragon brings a ball-shaped object in its hand. This item is called the Nyoi Houju (如意宝珠, Cintāmaṇi), a fantasy jewel that fulfills any desire and gives out treasure, clothes, food, and drinks. In addition, it heals illness and suffering, removes evils, purifies muddy water, and prevents disasters. It is said this magical item is taken from the brain of the dragon king.
There are two types of Yatates. The one is that it is a tool for inserting arrows. Its use could be thought of in the same way as the Ebira (箙, quiver). The other use of Yatate is a set of portable writing utensils that combines a brush and an ink pot. Materials include metal, ceramic, bamboo, and wood. It is a writing instrument from the Edo period with a tube for holding an ink pot into the brush. During the Kamakura period, people carried a small inkstone and a brush inside their quiver in preparation for writing on the battlefields, and this inkstone was called the Yatate-no Suzuri (矢立ての硯, 硯 is an inkstone),” which is why the set of portable writing utensils came to be called the Yatate.
This Yatate is a ladle-shaped ink pot with a tube for an attached brush. This type of Yatate looks similar to a smoking pipe at first glance. It was sturdy, had a good grip, and did not attract suspicion when carried around, so pens equipped with needles and blades were also helpful as concealed weapons for self-defense.
*As this item is an antique, please check each photo and ensure its condition.
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