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18. 7. 2015

Ryu dragon

Patinated bronze cast using sand moulds. Just as in China, the many species of ryu dragon in Japan are a symbol of omnipotence as well as the element yang. Associated with water, which it carries from the earth to the sky, it rises to the heavens in the spring and returns to the rivers in the autumn. It directs rivers and springs, and is the master of the wind and storms. Its breath transforms into clouds, bringing rain. It is usually portrayed with a pearl of the dragon king tama, which is used to call the tides and fulfil all wishes, which sometimes semantically overlaps with the Buddhist pearl of omnipotence, hoja.

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18. 7. 2015

Sword with a bird’s head

The sword in the form torikubi no tachi (sword with a bird’s head) is an extremely rare variant of courtly ceremonial swords having their origins in ancient times, in the Korean kingdom Kudara (Päkche, which disappeared in 660 AD) when this type of sword was originally worn by court falconers (Japanese: takakai ); later the custom of wearing this type of sword crossed to the highest nobility. Distinguished men were depicted wearing a sword of this type, such as General Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (988-1075 AD) and Michizane Sugawara (845-903 AD), posthumously deified as a god of literature, and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616 AD), founder of the Tokugawa shogunate and unifier of Japan. Emperor Saga (785-842 AD) and later Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408 AD) devoted a shrine in Kumano to this type of sword. Neo-Confucian scholar Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725 AD) mentions a similar sword – Ryújakutó – owned by Liu Po Poem, who usurped the Hsia Dynasty throne in 407 AD and ruled as a man of unparalleled cruelty until the year 425 AD.

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