A Shinto Ema: Wooden Votive Plaque
mid to late twentieth century
3 3/4" x 6 1/8", 9.5 cm x 15.5 cm
This is an 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, such as this one, are small votives which are mass-produced to be bought by visitors to a shrine. Anyone who has been to a Shinto shrine in Japan has seen crowded racks containing hundreds of ema not dissimilar from this one.
The image of the snarling dragon on this particular ema seems to be hand stenciled on to a piece of light weight wood. And have a look at the back of the plaque for some more visual fun.
A delightful object--and one that is well-suited for someone born in the year of the dragon.