kaiawase 貝合
KEY WORD : art history / crafts
Also called kaiooi 貝覆. A shell-matching game played originally by nobles in the Heian period. A half clam shell was decorated and placed outer side-up. The matching half of the design was painted on other half shells and they were turned over one by one by players competing to match pairs. A poem or miniature painting was added inside each shell in order to facilitate matching, with the first part of a 32-syllable poem written on one half and the latter part written on its mate, while both halves were detailed with an identical motif. The most popular subjects are flowers and episodes from GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji). The Hayashibara 林原 Museum's (Okayama prefecture) set of 180 pairs of illustrations from the GENJI MONOGATARI is a beautiful example from the Edo period. Sets of kaiawase were often part of a bridal trousseau and this one is recorded as being brought by the bride of Ikeda Mitsumasa 池田光政 in 1628. The minute paintings are in the traditional *yamato-e やまと絵 style characterized by lavish gilt backgrounds. Hexagonal boxes *kaioke 貝桶 used for storing pairs of shells especially in the Edo period, were often decorated in the *makie 蒔絵 lacquer technique using much gold or silver.

*urushi-nuri 漆塗

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