A Hand Painted Ko Ema Picturing a Boar: Votive Plaque
ca. mid twentieth century
overall dimensions: 6" x 10", 15 cmx 25.5 cm
This is a charming, hand painted wooden tablet showing a wild boar bounding in front of what appears to be a hill.
This is a ko ema; an ema is a votive tablet offered by an individual to a Shinto temple either in petition for a favor or in thanks for a favor received. Some ema can be very large and hand painted. They can depict battle scenes, sailing ships or other elaborate images. Ko ema are small votives which were mass-produced by itinerant painters who would sell the goods on roads leading to, or in front of, a shrine.
Often the image on the ko ema is meaningful: the depiction of hands is asking for help with a deficit to the hand, the same with eyes, and so on. This boar may either be some kind of ema shorthand which we do not understand, or it could be an image associate with a certain shrine.
The image is efficiently painted using only five colors and the object is quickly assembled with lightweight wood.
A wonderful thing for someone born in the year of the boar, but in its own right, this is a delightful thing with rustic appeal.