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Antique Japanese Nobori Banner, Samurai 'Shitenno'

Antique Japanese Nobori Banner, Samurai 'Shitenno'

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1920: Item # 665903
Asian Art By Kyoko
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The nobori banners, carps, warrior's Yoroi and Kabuto helmets, samurai dolls and swords were all a part of the display used for Boy's Day (renamed Children's Day) on May 5th in Japan. They reflect the parent's wish (at the time that they were made) to inspire their sons in manliness, discipline, bravery and the honor codes which are associated with them.

Originally, Nobori were used on the battlefield to identify the troops; some were to show the warriors where their taisho (general) was. Others were used to shift the troops. It took several men to hold the big Nobori banners. It was an effective tool in the 16th century especially when numbers exceeded 100,000 in major battles. Drums and trumpets were also used for the same reason.

When Ieyasu (Tokugawa) took control and united Japan in the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), it was the end of major battles. The nobori banners became more ornamental rather than tools for battle. The families of samurai started to display nobori along with their armor to celebrate the birth of their boys and probably for other ceremonial occasions. When this custom spread to the general population later, carps, steamers and more ornamental banners were created. We can see some fine art work on nobori from this period (late Edo) to early Showa.

The beautiful dye work stayed untouched on this banner cloth. It was never finished with the hanging handles of the banner, so this was never used. Written on the box (insect damage on wood - treated) and on fabric are "Shitenno" and "Nobori bata (flag, banner)". "Shitenno" are the four strongest samurai retainers of a famous lord. The term came from the Four Guardians of Buddhists who proteced the four quarters of the world. Shitenno: Shi (four), Ten (heaven, universe), o (translated to king, pronounced as "oh"). It also written number 3 (of a set). The end of the roll where it was exposed is soiled (shown in the picture), but the rest is pretty much in new condition. Dimensions are 18" wide and 182" (15'2") long.

NOTE: We will be listing the price and some other noboris sometimes later. This may take a little longer than we wish. If you are interested in purchasing our nobori, please contact us.