Vegder's Blog

February 12, 2016

The Many Uses of Ebi (海老) – A Fresh Look: Part One

Tokyo National Museum

Five months and two weeks before WordPress got started, I began publishing web pages about Japanese prints I was offering for sale along with a ton of information about Japanese culture. That original web site still exists and is probably made up of a couple hundred pages by now. I don’t know for sure and am not in the mood to count them. I do understand the laments that it might be a bit difficult to navigate, but it is my baby. So, I don’t know what to say. One thing I will tell you is that buried in that mess that I call my commercial web site is a page I call “The Many Uses of Ebi“. I put it there because I wanted people to know some of the background and the mysteries tied to the Japanese use of lobster and shrimp imagery and also some of the linguistic gymnastics performed by their use of the kanji characters for those creatures, i.e., 海老. It is the same for both. Now I want to revisit that idea but with a much more expansive approach. That is what I hope to give you here. Please remember to come back to this page often at the beginning, because I will be adding a ton of information – much of it tangential and/or superfluous – until I am worn down and feel the need to move on to the next topic.

Musée Guimet – Hokusai (北斎: 1760-1849) ink on paper, fan shaped – ca. 1803-05

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Tea bowl by Kashu Mimpei (賀集珉平: 1796–1871)

Sèvres, Cité de la céramique – Bol à thé – 19th century

Philadelphia Museum of Art –  lobster dress 1937
A collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli (エルザ・スキャパレッリ) and Salvador Dali (サルバドール・ダリ)

Yale – lekythos (λήκυθος) in the shape of a lobster claw – 5th century B.C.

Minneapolis Institute of Art – lobster plate from the Rutherford B. Hayes service, ca. 1882

The Walters Art Museum – kashira by Iwamoto Konkan (1744-1801)

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Gemäldegalerie – Dresden
Still-life with fruit, flowers and lobster by Cornelis de Heem (1631-1695)

Please come back often as I fill in the gaps with detailed information and blatherings. There is a lot more to come. Be forewarned.

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