Description The horse at the upper left of this tsuba is emerging from the gourd at the lower right. This is an illustration of the idiom "like a horse coming out of a gourd," which is used to describe unexpected things. The saying may have developed from stories of the Chinese immortal Chokaro (Ch. Zhang Guo [Chang Kuo]) who carried his magical mule in a gourd. On the reverse, the phrase "Ningen banji" is inscribed along the upper and left sections. These are the first words of the proverb "Human affairs are like Saio's horse." This proverb means that things which may appear to be good fortune can sometimes be bad luck and visa versa. It comes from a story about an old man named Saio who had good luck and bad luck brought to him through incidents with his horse.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Date] 弘化三丙午年 春三月刻; [Transliteration] Koka san hinoe-uma toshi/Haru sangatsu koku; [Translation] Carved in the springtime, third month of the third year of Koka (1846), the year of the fiery horse; [Inscription] 人間萬事; [Transliteration] Ningen-banji; [Translation] The happenings of man [are like Saio's horse] (proverb); [Signature] 桂月; [Translation] Ka[ ]sui; [Seal] 可[ ]水; [Translation] Keigetsu
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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