A Small Hand Painted Ema: Shinto "Ex Voto"
mid twentieth century
7 1/4" x 9 1/2", 18.5 cm x 24 cm
This is a charming, hand painted wooden tablet showing a devout woman in prayer.
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.
This ema depicts a white mouse or rat and perhaps it has some zodiacal significance. The image is efficiently painted using only four colors on lightweight, distressed wood: it seems the ema once bore a frame on its edges which has now disappeared. Not as well the loss to the lower, left corner.
A wonderful thing with rustic appeal.