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Author Topic: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan  (Read 2465 times)

Lourens

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‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« on: April 23, 2016, 09:51:32 AM »

Question about ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
(especially for our Japanese fellow-members!)

As long as I have Gould's book, I know the picture of the Chochin-goma at page 189/15. Down this is a footnote with the reference to the book by Culin (page 27/47). More or less you see the same drawing there but on page 28 is written: ‘the cochin-goma or lantern-top, made in two parts, connected with paper like a lantern which distends when it is spun’.
Some years ago I bought from the contents from an American antique dealer two of these tops. Since then, I am not only looking for information, but also to images. What I found I share with you on this forum.
Recently I am in possession of a reissue of a catalog of ‘The International Exhibition of 1862’ (London) and there is also a description of this top (see pictures).
I hope (Japanese?) members of this forum can help me with some remaining questions I have:
-are more pieces of this top known in a private collection or on a museum?
-can someone explane how it is possible that this top will open and the lantern folds out?
I hope to learn more from you! Thank you in advance for any help.

« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 07:33:44 AM by Lourens »
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ta0

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2016, 01:03:51 PM »

Wow! :o And you got two of those!  8) 8) I haven't seen it in any collection. I had only seen the drawing on Gould and I didn't understand that the top expanded like an accordion.

My guess is that the description on Culin is mistaken ("distends when it is spun) and the one on the brochure is correct ("on being lift up becomes a lantern").
It will be interesting to see what Mr. Fujita says about it (I will write to him).

Does it have holes on the inside of the top for the air to come in and out?

Thanks for sharing the photos and the information of this very unusual top!
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ta0

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2016, 01:32:07 PM »

Here is a photo I found doing a search with the kanji characters. It is from a blog (link) from what it looks like a visit to a koma museum:



Using google translation I cannot find the name of the museum on that page. But it seems that the poster also wonders how the top works.

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ta0

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2016, 07:37:57 PM »

Another one (probably modern) from this gallery: link.



This belongs to a koma performer, juggler and street artist (Otobokesan ?)
He has some nice top videos that I will post on another thread, but I did not find one using the lantern top, although I assume he uses it.

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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2016, 08:42:49 AM »

Thank you Ta0, for your very fast reaction! I have used the picture of the Latern Top in my blog and added it to an article in Dutch I wrote about this top.
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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 11:02:32 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 1)

A sequel to an earlier blog about ‘the lantern-top’ that starts with finding a print of a Japanese woodblock on the internet: ‘Matsui Gensui Troop of Topspinners” (1865, collection of Robert Hewson Pruyn, Albany Institute of History & Art, USA, photo 1).
The figure shows six people in traditional dress doing the most bizarre tricks do with spinning tops. The tops are thrown towards each other over and over again and collected, the person on the right catches them and opens it as a lantern! On the middle at the left a spinning top becomes a firework- or fountain top. On the left down the tops are distributed among the group of artists and an artist at the right side stacks the tops to a turret of spinning tops.
 
(Photo 1: woodcut of Matsui Gensui Troop of Topspinners)

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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2016, 11:04:15 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 2)

The discovery of this woodcut inspired me to start looking for more information about this particular ‘Troop of Topspinners’.
In early 1700 there was the first to see a performance with spinning tops in Shijogawara Kyoto. The artist was Katsutaro from Hakata. His performance was so successful that he also attracted the attention of other theater owners. Also, trading in spinning tops increased. The game of spinning tops by men at that time was often related to having a particular sexual orientation. Imitators of Hatsutaro did not prove to be successful enough and went to Edo where the news of their arrival already rushed forward. In Edo, one incidentally was not familiar with the special talent of Hatsutaro. At first these artists were very successful and were even invited by Samurai of high birth. Later unrest created by mutual jealousy, after which the government was increasingly up laws forbidding the game of spinning tops at locations outside the theatre-area.

And to return to the aforementioned woodcut:
Matsu Gensui (the 13th generation of the Matsui family) was breaking the laws useful to claim that the modest performance with tops was only referred to by his troop as a way to advertise an amazing drug, manufactured according to family recipe:  'performance as advertisement’.
Figure 2 shows a woodcut from 1733 on which Matsu Gensui performances with at  the background a cabinet with a drug sold by him. According to a comment in this illustration, onlookers were so mesmerized by the idea that it had mourned with a sleeping leg!
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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2016, 11:06:18 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 3)

From this moment the fame of Matsu Gensui and his troop rises to unprecedented levels and there is even a street named after him ‘the Gensui Alley’. His performances are regularly visited by senior figures. Because not everyone wanted to demean oneself attending a performance in his ‘drug-stall ', he was also invited to perform in a temple or palace of a Shogun.
With relatives, he offers a complete program that not only consists of spinning tops as well as (floor) acrobatics, juggling, feet-antipode. The foot juggler used also tops in his act as can be seen in the woodcut (photo 3). The success of this family transcends several generations.

(photo 3: Japanese woodcut with a performance of a foot juggler using a spinning top)
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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2016, 11:08:03 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 4)

As I mentioned in an earlier blog about the ‘Lantern-top’ this particular top was seen in 1862 at the International Exhibition in London. The illustrated woodcuts suggests that the Matsu family has performed with these for many generations. On April 15 1867 this family could performanced for the British royal family at Windsor Castle. On their trip to England this beautiful family portrait of the Matsui family was probably created in Marseille (photo 4).

(photo 4: : Matsui Gensui-family)
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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 11:09:46 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 5)

The above brought me to the question whether Professor J. Perry (author of 'Spinning Tops' 1890) has attended a performance of the Matsu family during his position as a teacher at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo (1875-1879) in Asakusa. Perhaps together with his former colleague William Edward Ayrton and his wife Matilda Chaplin.
Both men had become interested in the game of spinning tops by their former Professor Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin). The J. Perry eyewitness report can be read in his book on pages 12 and 13 (photo 5)!

(photo 5: 'Spinning Tops' by Prof. J. Perry)
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Lourens

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2016, 11:12:38 AM »

Chochin-Goma, Lantern Top; a follow-up (part 6)

That this performance has impressed is also reflected in the book 'Child Life in Japan’ from 1879 that is written and illustrated by Matilda Chaplin Ayrton (photo 6)

(photo 6: Child Life in Japan,1879 by Matilde Chaplin - Ayrton (1846 -1883))

Professor Perry describes for me on the most romantic way the game of spinning tops in Japan, especially considering his background as a physicist!

Should you, after reading this blog, have new information for me then I hear this please! And perhaps this will lead to a new blog!

Lourens Bas, september 2016.

Sources:
-Albany Institute of History and Art, collectie Robert Hewson Pruyn.
-'Street performers and society in urban Japan'(1600-1900)' door Gerald Groemer (2016).
-'Prayer and play in late Tokugawa Japan', Asakusa Sensoji and Edo Society, Nam-Lin Hur (2000).
-'Daruma Archives'(weblog) Dr. Gabi Greve, Daruma Museum Japan.
-‘Childlife in Japan' (1879) door Matilda Chaplin-Ayrton.
-‘Spinning Tops’ (1890) door J. Perry.

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ta0

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2016, 12:48:56 PM »

Thanks so much Lourens for sharing all this difficult-to-find information and rare documents!  8) 8) 8)

I didn't recall (know?) that Perry had been a professor in Japan. You made me read again those pages.  Perry was really passionate about spinning tops and he feels like a kindred spirit. One curious thing from the description of the performance in Asakusa is: "he makes it travel up a great corkscrew". I am guessing it was not a corkscrew made out of string: if it were my trick Staircase to Heaven was invented well over a century ago  . . .

I can imagine acrobats at Cirque du Soleil doing the spinning of giant tops on their feet, exactly like in that painting.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 12:51:23 PM by ta0 »
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jim in paris

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2016, 02:20:52 PM »

thank you Lourens for this jump in time !

"he makes it travel up a great corkscrew".
it might be a stage prop similar to those used for diabolo performances




jim
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Jack

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Re: ‘Chochin-goma, Lantern-top’ from Japan
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 03:24:41 PM »

daaaaaaamn @-@
thats alot of delicious new koma information to digest  :o
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