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Ezo Kōgai

Ezo kōgai (蝦夷笄) made of gold gilded yamagane, with motif of 5 peonies (botan 牡丹), on a background of nanako (魚子). The motif has been carved in high relief, rather than applied to the plate.  This technique is called takaniku-bori (高肉彫).  This kogai was once fully gilded, but time-related wear have expectedly resulted in loss. In places, the remaining gold is visibly quite thick, almost a foil. The scoop or mimikaki (耳掻) is pronounced, as was common in early kogai. No doubt, this was a kogai meant to be seen, and reflected the high status and wealth of its owner.  Ezo kogai are very rare, and usually far less ornamental than this example.

The inline floral motif was a favored subject in early Japanese metalwork, and foremost was the peony.  The peony holds a honored spot in the Japanese flower symbology.  It is called The King of Flowers, and is a symbol of good fortune (carried over from Chinese concepts), though in Japan, it also came to represent bravery, honor and righteous spirit.  No wonder that the peony became a favorite motif of the samurai.  The inline 5 peony motif first appears on early armor O-sode kanamono of the Heian / Kamakura periods (12th - 13th c). The size of those armor adornments is similar in size to the decorative plate of a robust kogai, so the motif easily transferred.  The motif remained popular in either 3- or 5-inline through the Muromachi period.

Measurements: 23.0cm x 1.25cm x 0.48cm

Early Muromachi Period (室町前期時代), 15th century


Ezo Kogai Compilation Black_Small 1300px x 328px

Ezo Kogai Detail Black_Small_1300px x 431px

Ezo Kogai Side View Black_Small_1300px x 158px



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