One of a rare set of three miniature 'Nobori Bata' banners (see 2539a and b for the others, priced separately). The silk is a crepe 'chirimen' that is spun so tightly that the product exhibits an uncharacteristic rough texture. The motifs were created using the sumi-e drawing technique. Very good condition. 8" x 12". The three tiny banners that make up item 2539 a, b and c were part of a May 5 Boys Day 'warrior' display carefully arranged in the 'tokonoma' or alcove within some Japanese homes. This display centered around several warrior dolls, or Musha Ningyô ' ; these elaborate displays that during Edo and Meiji times typically included a set of miniature 'nobori bata' (banners such as item 2539), fans, carp streamers, feathery whisks, warrior dolls in rows, seated figures, men on horseback, hawks tethered to their perches, standing figures with swords at their hips, protected by armor: a miniature army to be led into combat. Essentially these indoor displays feature great figures and heroic episodes from Japan's martial past in order to inspire in the boys heart honorable ethics and values, passing on heritage and pride in the past, while at the same time were thought to ward off evil spirits. This banner depicts 'Shoki', the benevolent demon queller. During Japan's Edo period, a new, prosperous merchant class flourished, and this new middle class preferred scenes of everyday life and illustrations of folk stories like Shōki. Following is reproduced a written historical outline of Shoki's life :" During the early T'ang Dynasty, Shōki was a physician in the province of Shensi, China. He was considered very ugly. Hoping to advance his career, he took the examinations required to enter government service. Although he performed brilliantly, Shōki's dreams of advancement were shattered. Some say Shōki was cruelly cheated out of first place. Others say he was awarded first place by the examiners, who praised his work, saying it was equal to that of the wisest ancients. But when Shōki was presented to the court, the emperor rejected him because he was so ugly. In shame, Shōki took his own life on the steps of the imperial palace, right in front of the emperor. Overcome with remorse, the emperor ordered that Shōki be buried with the highest honors, wrapped in a green robe usually reserved for members of the imperial clan. In gratitude, Shōki's spirit vowed to protect any ruler against the evil of demons"