Japanese, early 20th century
The suzu is a small bell tree used in kagura, or Shinto music. Most characteristically it is used in mikomai, one of the two main styles of female Shinto dancing. According to mythological tradition sacred dancing had its beginning in the dancing of a female deity. The tradition was carried on by dancers and sorceresses. Mikomai specifically began as a boy's dance, but subsequently was taken over by female dancers wearing traditional Shinto robes, white powdered faces and a hair style from the Heian period.
Twelve brass pellet bells suspended in two groups of five and seven (odd numbers for good luck) on a "tree" of brass. Hardwood handle with engraved brass fittings and silk tassel. Total length (without tassel): 25.5 cm.
The Robyna Neilson Ketchum Collection of Bells
Accession No. 1223.1972