The nine-planet hunt

As we unpack and condition check the numerous objects featured in Lords of the Samurai, one of our many small pleasures is spotting the ubiquitious nine-planet Hosokowa family crest. Can you spot a crest among the rolled paintings pictured below?

Can you find the nine-planet crest?

The painting approximately four from the left has a dramatic and visible family crest incorporated into the end knobs. Less visible is the painting on the far right, which features two embossed gold-on-gold crests.

These paintings have knobs decorated with the Hosokowa family crest

A number of the other paintings shown also feature this distinct mark of family pride, although in different ways . One common use of the crest is in the fabrics used to mount the painting as scrolls. The nine-planet crest is woven into these fabrics using bright gold threads against a colored ground, usually of dark blue or a serene white.

Many of the paintings in Samurai are mounted using fabric decorated with the nine-planet design.

Other paintings, particularly the hand scrolls, include the design in the actual painted image. Besides paintings, we have also spotted the crest on sword mounts, lacquer wares, ceramics, armor, and more.

When you visit the exhibition, be sure to see how many cleverly incorporated nine-planet crests you can find.

11 Responses to “The nine-planet hunt”

  1. Shalom  on May 28th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks for pointing this out. I’m eager to see the samurai exhibit.

  2. cristina  on May 29th, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Shalom –
    Thanks for reading our blog! We can’t wait for the exhibition to open either. The objects are spectacular and it has been a pleasure to work with them.

  3. hwickline  on May 30th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Very interesting post, and I too am really looking forward to the Samurai exhibition. Quick question for someone who knows: I’m guessing this crest is quite old, but Pluto wasn’t discovered until 1930. Is the ninth planet something else, or is the crest not that old?

  4. xensen  on May 30th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I think the ninth “planet” is actually the sun. In the crest it’s larger, and the other eight orbs circle around it. I don’t speak Japanese, but I understand the sun and planets take the same word in that language — probably more like “celestial body” than “planet” in a very precise translation.

  5. hwickline  on June 2nd, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Thanks Xensen,

    My wife and I had speculated that that might be it. Now, is the moon in there, too, I wonder.

  6. misa  on June 2nd, 2009 at 9:56 am

    The “nine planets” in the Hosokawa family crest are actually not all planets or even all celestial bodies. The concept comes from Indian cosmology–the nine grahas.
    See Wikipedia entry on same. The specific planets (or not) are listed toward the bottom, next to the deities who represent them.

  7. xensen  on June 2nd, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Melissa — I knew you would know the answer! (Misa is Melissa Rinne, the museum’s assistant curator of Japanese Art.)

    UPDATE: I made a new post expanding on this subject a little.

  8. bittermelon  on June 3rd, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I just love that the crest is called Nine Planets. This was a great post, the “Where’s Waldo”-esque approach is fun.

  9. modern-day samurai  on June 20th, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Interesting….this symbol that the Hosokowa family uses in exactly the same as the one used by my grandmother’s family, Takemura. Anyone here know why this might be?

  10. Karen  on August 22nd, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Anybody out there watch the Samurai flicks Sat nights/9:35-10:30? In SF the station is KKSF (I think) channel 26/Marin it’s comcast channel 8. If you want a greater understanding of “The Warring Era” watch these dramas. In Japanese, English subtitles.

    The current one is about a clan’s efforts to retain their independence from Hideyoshi with Tokagowa Ieyasu riding their tail. Each storyline is a season. It makes seeing the real thing so interesting. And they are pretty accurate on details.

    Check ‘em out then go back to exhibit,


  11. sanderson  on November 19th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

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