A Vintage Hand Painted Ema: Shinto Ex Voto

$195.00 USD

mid twentieth century
5 1/2" x 7", 14 cm x 17.75 cm

This is a charming, hand painted wooden tablet showing a tethered horse which is dressed in fanciful festival wear.

This painted plaque is a ko ema.  

A
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 horse; the horse is the traditional or original form of the ema which literally means "picture horse."  In old Japan, horses were donated to Shinto shrines and as they were a luxurious donation, the tradition of donating a painted image of a horse became a popular way for those of lesser means to petition the gods of the shrine.

A wonderful thing with rustic appeal.

Recommended.