すね犬 (sulking dog)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

すね犬 (sune inu)
“sulking dog”

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This top depicts a sulking dog. The dog is sulking because he is bearing the burdens of the world, represented by the paintings on the underside of the top. Though they are not pictured here, the images are of tengu** and okame**, which likely have reproductive or sexual connotations. The head and tail of the dog can be removed and combined to form a top.

**Tengu are creatures from Japanese folklore that are considered a kind of kami (god/spirit) or yōkai (supernatural being). Often said to be troublesome, their long noses symbolize sexuality and fertility.

**okame is a popular theme for masks in Japan, often seen in traditional kyogen or dengaku performances and festivals. Okame is an plain-faced woman, featured together here with the tengu probably as symbols of reproduction.

***

***

Hiroi Michiaki: Hmm.

Mrs. Hiroi: That’s a puppy.

Janell Landis: Hehehe.

Hiroi: This one is difficult to explain, isn’t it?

Mrs. Hiroi: Mm… Because the bottom, on the bottom there’s also a painting.

Hiroi: How should I explain this. Umm…. how to explain it… Anyway, when you remove this–

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah, you can take all of it apart.

Hiroi: The head and this part become a top.

Mrs. Hiroi: The head.

Hiroi: And here, on the bottom, there’s a painting. A tengu and okame** are painted… Ahh…. and, in other words the worries of the world are expressed here. And the sulking dog is thoroughly troubled.

**okame is a popular theme for masks in Japan, often seen in traditional kyogen or dengaku performances and festivals. Okame is an plain-faced woman, featured together here with the tengu probably as symbols of reproduction.

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah.

Hiroi: He’s very worried.

Janell Landis: (laughs)

Hiroi: And in the case of Japan, this kind of thing is a good omen. Umm… for the prosperity of your family, for example. Lots of things. It’s a very good omen. Explaining it is a little… yeah, it’s a little hard. (laughs) In other words it’s a top that expresses the suffering of the world..

 

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