unsigned stag antler pipecase

19th century

battle at a waterfall

8 7/8 in., 22.5 cm

carved in high relief with three samurai warriors in front of a waterfall, a figure wearing an elaborate helmet is pinned down by another younger warrior who turns to face a third leaping forward with his katana raised high above his head and ready to strike; the darker sections of the stag antler well-utilized to convey shading on the rock outcropings and pine branches; unsigned but with sumi ink mark 'zan' (or 'yama'), on interior

The subject of this pipecase is somewhat of a mystery; it may be an allusion to the story of Hatsuhana from the kabuki play Zoho Izari no Adouchi (based on real events that took place in 1590), the devoted wife of Inuma Katsugoro. In one version of the story, Hatsuhana prayed underneath a sacred waterfall for 100 days, hoping to help her husband who had lost the use of his legs so that he could resume his search for his sworn enemy and avenge his father's murder. Although Hatsuhana died as a result of her austerities, her husband did recover and battled (and killed) his enemy at the same waterfall (Edmunds, Pointers and Clues, 1934, p. 377). In another version of the play, she is actually killed first by their enemy, and it is her ghost that seen praying in the waterfall. In most depictions of the battle between the warriors, Hatsuhana's ghost is visible, watching from beneath the falls.

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
October 28, 2021

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