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Sho, mouth organ. Free reed instrument with a metal wind chamber, into which seventeen vertical bamboo pipes are positioned in a circular formation. Three pipes are mute, three have silver caps, and two have silver-bushed rectangular slots. Pipes secured by a silver band cast to simulate the nodes of a bamboo cane. Finger holes near the bottom of each pipe originally engaged an internal bronze reed when covered. Reeds now separate from instrument. As is customary, the reeds have traces of potassium nitrate to prevent them from sticking to their frames when moist. Reeds have wax tuning spots applied. Pipes each have an undecorated rectangular hole on the back. The sides of each pipe shaped to accommodate its neighbour. Each has a gold-painted tapered section above the wind chamber. Wind chamber is gold and silver lacquered with a design of butterflies and cherry blossoms in Togidashi and Takamaki-e on a nashiju ground. A short mouthpipe with similar decoration extends from side and terminates in a silver lip plate with rectangular mouth hole. A gold kanji inscription on one of the pipes translates as 'Made in July of the second year of Anei [1773]. Entitled to the widely known name of the house of Udzumasa, governor of the province of Kii, nominated by the Emperor to the 4th rank Inferior 1st degree.' Instrument has two cloth covers, one of which is decorated in green and gold brocade, and a wooden case with an urushi-ware finish and butterfly-shaped silver hinge and clasp.

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  • Materials:textile, leather, paint, lacquer, metal, wood, bamboo
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  • Hornbostel-Sachs category:412.132 Sets of free reeds
  • Repository:Horniman Museum and Gardens