A four case inro, signed Shunposai Setsuzan, Gonse coll., late Edo period, circa 1800
decorated in gold togidashi on a black roiro ground and low relief, faintly depicting a scene from the Japanese folklore Kitsune no yomeiri, the wedding procession of foxes holding red lacquer lanterns in a woodland.
On the back, a fox is carrying a Palenquin.
The fox wedding procession is depicted on very low relief on the surface of the lacquer so that it can be seen only playing with light.
Nashiji interiors and risers, fundame rims.
Formerly in Th L Gonse collection.
In various parts of Japan the foxes wedding folklore, Kitsune no yomeiri, is recounted in literature and re-enacted or performed in rituals or festivals. Foxes are popular creatures in Japan, being seen as intelligent shape-shifters and tricksters who posses magical powers and are regarded as spiritual entities (they are associated with Inari the Shinto deity for rice). There are different interpretations or associations of kitsune no yomeiri, one relating to mysterious lights seen in the forest at night which were thought to be the paper lanterns carried in wedding processions, traditional Japanese weddings were often held at night and the bride would be escorted with a parade of lanterns, and as these mysterious lights would vanish when approached it was thought to be a trick played
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