|KEY WORD : art history / iconography|
| Offerings made at shrines to Shinto gods *kami
神. The most sacred of all shinpou are the three imperial regalia sanshu-no-jingi
三種の神器: a mirror, a sword, and a jewel. Items offered emphasized things needed
for daily use, cosmetic boxes, jewelry, weapons, and tools but also correspond
to the sex, age, or size of the kami. For example, miniature weapons were
offered to boy deities. Shinpou are renewed at the time of the accession
of a new emperor or the periodic rebuilding of a shrine *shikinen
senguu 式年遷宮, and old items are buried in the shrine grounds or transferred
to another place. Those that remain today have either been excavated or found
in shrine buildings. Offerings were frequently made by the imperial family and
members of the court, so they represent the best craftwork of the time. Since
a number of shinpou were copied at the rebuilding of the shrine the craft
techniques were preserved. Sometimes these techniques were described and illustrated.
Although theoretically not shinpou, items that belong to the shrines, not to the individual deities, such as masks, musical instruments, ornaments, palanquins *mikoshi 御輿, and suits of armor are often exhibited with them. These also include rare and fine examples of Japanese craftsmanship.
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