Shoso-in Exhibition to Showcase 59 Treasures

Courtesy of Shoso-in
A biwa lute to be included in the 75th exhibition of Shoso-in treasures

The 75th exhibition of Shoso-in treasures will be held from Oct. 28 to Nov. 13, the Nara National Museum has announced.

The annual exhibition will showcase 59 items this year, many of which are treasures representative of the Tempyo culture of the eighth century. Six will be shown to the public for the first time.

Among the items on display will be one officially described as “Biwa Lute with Wooden Back of Kaede Sappan Juice and Embellished with Inset Shell Decoration.” Adorned with gorgeous decorations and paintings, this four-stringed biwa, an instrument of Persian origin, is 97 centimeters long and 40.5 centimeters wide at its widest point.

On the front of the musical instrument, people on white elephants are depicted playing the shakuhachi bamboo flute and transverse flute, while inlaid yakogai shells and abalone decorate the back.

The lute appears to have been made in Japan, judging from the materials used and other factors.

Other treasures on display will include the “Folding Screen Panels with Clamp-Resist (Kyokechi) Dyed Motifs of Birds and Flowers,” which features floral and bird designs created with the kyokechi dying method. Visitors can also see “Rhinoceros Horn Nyoi Scepter,” a Buddhist monk’s tool made with rhinoceros horn and abundant precious gems.

Like last year, visitors need to buy tickets in advance, reserving a specific date and time of entry. This year, the exhibition’s opening hours will be extended by one hour, starting at 8 a.m.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is providing special support to the exhibition.