unsigned five case inro

19th century

Shoki and kamo

height 3 3/8 in., 8.5 cm

bearing a silver-grey ground, decorated with gold takamaki-e Shoki walking in profile with his broad sword held pointed down, his robes embellished with fine keuchi of a floral brocade and a key-fret pattern at the hem and sleeves, his wide-brim hat decorated with placed kirikane and inlaid mother-of-pearl, details in lighter grey; the reverse decorated with a wild duck among water reeds with inlaid mother-of-pearl highlights; nashiji risers; unsigned; with white glass ojime speckled with colors

Shoki, The Demon Queller, is based on a Chinese legendary figure Chung Kuei (or Zhong Gui), who committed suicide when he failed the civil service exam, but was nevertheless honored with a proper burial at the orders of the Emperor. His grateful ghost became a protector of the Emperor, vowing to rid the empire of all demons. The image of the wild duck (kamo) on the reverse is a likely a subtle reference to Shoki's story- in China the wild duck among lotus plants are associated with success in passing bureaucratic examinations (Baird, Symbols of Japan, p. 121).

another view


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
December 1, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475