shinpou 神宝
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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