Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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sho (mouth organ)
  • Japan
  • sho (mouth organ), 1700s
  • Where object was made: Japan
  • bamboo, wood, brass, paint, staining, incising
  • Object Length/Width: b 7 x 6 cm
    Object Length/Width: b 2 3/4 x 2 3/8 in
    Object Length/Width/Depth: shortest 17 x 1 x 1 cm
    Object Length/Width/Depth: shortest 6 11/16 x 3/8 x 3/8 in
    Object Length/Width/Depth: longest 45 x 1.5 x 1.5 cm
    Object Length/Width/Depth: longest 17 11/16 x 9/16 x 9/16 in
  • Betty Austin Hensley Flutes of the World
  • Not on display
  • 2007.0547.a-s
Multimedia
Description
Inscriptions/Signature

These are seventeen dark red bamboo pipes intended to be part of a mouth organ. Most have one or two flat sides that are colored black and all have a tapered end that is cut on an angle and painted gold and black. There is a a brass ring to hold the pipes together.

2007.0547.a is the mouthpiece or base made from wood with a gold enamel-like coating. It is cylindrical with a ring of 17 holes on top and a flat surface to accomodate pipes. The bottom surface is keeled. The pointed oval mouthpiece is at one end of keel and has a brass plate with a rectangular hole. The sides are decorated with three designs: a gold flower with light green leaves, a bird in flight with long flowing tail feathers, and a smaller flower with leaves and long curling stem.

2007.0547.b is the brass ring, jointed to resemble bamboo. The ring has a deep dent that makes a nearly complete inner ring. This ring holds the upper portions of the pipes together.

There are three short bamboo pipes. One has a small hole and divot just above the paint and one side of the bamboo is shaved down to be flat, giving a "D" shape in cross section. There is a small slit in the non-flattened side of the bamboo and an Asian character is incised. A second has a small hole just above the paint. Two sides are shaved flat. The slit on rounded side, above the hole, has brass edging. A third does not have a hole above the paint. Two sides are shaved flat. The slit on the rounded side has brass edging. All three short pipes have a brass cap with a hole in the end, a scalloped edge, and a small heart cutout.

There are four mid-size bamboo pipes. Two have two shaved sides with a small hole just above the painted portion. The third has two shaved sides but the small hole is higher on the shaft. The fourth has one shaved side. There is a divot with a small hole in it just above the painted point. There is an Asian character above the divot and a small slit in the bamboo about midway up the pipe.

There are four medium size bamboo pipes. Two have shaved sides without a small hole. One has two shaved sides with a small hole just above the painted section. One has two shaved sides with a small hole a little higher than the last.

There are four longer mid-size bamboo pipes. One has two shaved sides and a small hole just above the paint and a slit near the top. The second has two shaved sides, a small hole just above the paint on the narrowest side, and a slit midway from the top and a character below. A third has two shaved sides, a small hole above the painted point, a slightly lower slit on body of pipe and a more complex Asian character. The fourth pipe has two shaved sides, a small hole above the painted point, a small slit about 1/3 of distance from bottom, and a small Asian character.

There are two long bamboo pipes. Each has two shaved sides, a small hole above the painted point, a slit midway from the top and an Asian character below the slit. The character is different for each piece.