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Antique Nobori Banner, Seven Spears of Shizugatake

Antique Nobori Banner, Seven Spears of Shizugatake

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Textiles: Pre 1920: Item # 678856
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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 parents’ wish to inspire their sons in manliness, discipline, bravery and the honor codes that are associated with them.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi has been one of the popular characters for Boy’s Day. He was born in a peasant family and worked his way all the way up to top commander of Japan. His way of serving his lord, Oda Nobunaga, was with absolute devotion and loyalty. He started out as a lowly servant and he used to warm Nobunaga’s sandals inside his clothes so that they were ready and warm whenever Nobunaga needed them.

When Oda Nobunaga was assassinated along with his oldest son, the big question of who would succeed Nobunaga was divided into two group among Nobunaga’s generals. Hideyoshi supported the grandson of Nobunaga, Sanposhi, who was only two years old.

The two groups fought in Shizugatake in May, 1538. The battle ended as a major victory for Hideyoshi when his seven retainers held up the forts that were created along the shore of Lake Biwa in the former Nobunaga’s holding. The attacks were coordinated simultaneously with an attack of the castle in Ogaki by the other retainers of late Nobunaga. Hideyoshi, battling in the castle first, had his men turn to Shizugatake and later went to reinforce them. He covered 80 kilometers in five hours. The seven retainers were later called “The Seven Spears of Shizugatake’. Of the seven, a well known figure would be Kato Kiyomasa. He is the second man from the bottom in this Nobori banner.

THE DIMENSIONS: 35" wide and 292" long (tassels not counted). The design area is approx. 17' long from his feet to the blue line. The handles were added later; the fabric is thin and there are stains and some small holes in the crest area and stains at the bottom white area.

The family crest on this banner is Katabami (wood sorrel). The pattern of katabami was already seen on carriages in the Heian period (794-1185). It became popular as a crest during the Edo period among warriors. The decorative piece on top of the streamer (Umajirushi) is different from Hideyoshi's golden gourd. It is very possible that there was a family tie to one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake. The small gourds underneath were added every time Hideyoshi won a battle.