Advanced Search

K-12 Educator
K-12 Student
Museum Visitor
UMMA Docent
UMMA Staff
University Faculty
University Student
Between and Mortarboard


UMMA Object Specific Fields






Query builder

92 Items in this Learning Collection

Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Kaiawase (Shell Game) Set

Accession Number
2015/1.378A&B

Title
Kaiawase (Shell Game) Set

Artist(s)
Japanese

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
19th century

Medium & Support
color and gold on shells

Dimensions
2 in x 3 in x 1 in (5.08 cm x 7.62 cm x 2.54 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies

Label copy
Kaiawase (shell game) set
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868)
19th century
Color and gold on shells
Museum purchase made possible by the University of Michigan Center for
Japanese Studies, 2015/1.378A&B–381A&B

Kaiawase was a shell matching game originally played by court ladies during the Heian period (794–1185) and later by women of the aristocratic, military, and wealthy merchant classes. There are other awase games that involve matching and joining things such as poetry or pictures, but kaiawase was played to match pairs of painted clam shells. A full set of the game contained 360 pairs of shells, all approximately the same size. The outside of the shell was left in its natural state, but the inside was cleaned, gilded, and painted. Each pair was decorated with an image inspired by classical literature, from flowers to noblemen. To play, the left half of the shells were spread out on the floor and the right half were drawn one at a time from the box in which they were housed. The winner of the game was the one who could make the most pairs. Because a shell had only one match, kaiawase became a symbol of the perfect union of a husband and wife; in turn, it alluded to female chastity. For this reason a kaiawase set was a significant part of the bridal trousseau of an upper class woman.

Primary Object Classification
-

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
flower (motif)
games
shell (animal material)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved