Yakko Tako is a heptaptych (a collection of seven images) in “Neo-Ukiyo-E” style representing the passages of a dream of a traditional Edo period servant to a Samurai of the Tokugawa clan. Each image depicts the story of how traditional Yakko-Dako (奴凧) kites came to be.
This painting shows the Samurai’s servant taking care of his Samurai master. The servant wears the traditional robes showing the “servant” emblem on his shoulders and arms. yakko refers to the servants of samurai during the Edo period in Japan. They wore a vest on which the “nail-puller crest” was attached, on the shoulders; therefore, cutting something (e.g. tofu) into cubes was called “cutting into yakko” (奴に切る, yakko ni kiru).
This painting shows the Samurai’s servant falling asleep when he actually had to take care of helping his Samurai master to prepare for the Sekigahara battle. The Battle of Sekigahara (Shinjitai: 関ヶ原の戦い; Kyūjitai: 關ヶ原の戰い, Hepburn romanization: Sekigahara no Tatakai) was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600 (Keichō 5, 15th day of the 9th month) in what is now Gifu prefecture, Japan, at the end of the Sengoku period. This battle was fought by the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu against a coalition of Toyotomi loyalist clans, several of which defected before or during the battle, leading to a Tokugawa victory. The Battle of Sekigahara was the largest battle of Japanese feudal history and is often regarded as the most important. Toyotomi defeat led to the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate.
This painting shows the Samurai’s master rage after discovering his servant sleeping on the floor. He invokes Akkorokamui (originally from Ainu mythology), a minor kami, to capture the servant. The servant tries to escape by transforming into a kite.
This painting shows Akkorokamui emerging from the water within an adapted background of the Yoshitsune Falls from the ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai, year ca. 1832. Ainu reverence of this monster has permeated into Shinto, which has incorporated Akkorokamui as a minor kami. Self purification practices for Akkorokamui are often strictly followed. While Akkorokamui is often presented as a benevolent kami with powers to heal and bestow knowledge, it is fickle and has the propensity to do harm. Akkorokamui’s nature as an octopus means that it is persistent and it is near impossible to escape its grasp without permission.
This painting shows Akkorokamui flying after the servant in his Yakko-Dako (奴凧) form within the Naruto Whirlpool of Awa Province originally created by Utagawa Hiroshige in 1855.
This painting shows the “7 Lucky Gods” or “The Seven Gods of Fortune” assembling in order to help the servant survive the prosecution by Akkorokamui. “The Seven Gods of Fortune” started being mentioned as a collective in the year 1420 in Fushimi, in order to imitate the processions of the daimyōs, the feudal lords of pre-modern Japan.
It is said that the Buddhist priest Tenkai selected these gods after speaking with the shōgun he served, Iemitsu Tokugawa, at the order of seeking whoever possessed the perfect virtues: longevity, fortune, popularity, sincerity, kindness, dignity, and magnanimity.
Shortly after a famous artist of the time, Kano Yasunobu, was ordained to portray these gods for the first time ever.
This painting depicts 7 Daruma dolls each of them gifted by each of the “7 Lucky Gods”. Each daruma has a specific power and a specific color to help save the servant escape Akkorokamui. Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese. Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement. The doll has also been commercialized by many Buddhist temples to use alongside the setting of goals.
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