AB 77-4 b

Folk Toys and Games

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Hanetsuki Did you know?

What is it?
Battledore (Hagoita)
What is it made of?
Where is it from?
When was it made?
Object ID
AB 77-4 b

This hagoita is used to play the game of hanetsuki during the New Year. On one side of the paddle is a three-dimensional figure of a woman wearing an embroidered kimono in red and gold with metallic embellishments. She wears a red hat and carries a branch of wisteria blossoms; there is a small bell behind her hat. These attributes indicate that the woman may be Fuji Musume, a figure from a popular kabuki dance. The back of the paddle is painted with a floral sakura (cherry blossom) design. The handle is wrapped in black velvet.

Fuji Musume ("Wisteria Maiden") is a famous kabuki dance, now a complete play as well. The dance was first performed in 1826, inspired by images of the Wisteria Maiden figure from Lake Biwa. The dance tells the love story of Fuji Musume, wearing an elegant furisode kimono (long-sleeved kimono) and carrying a wisteria branch. Throughout the course of the dance, Fuji Musume expresses the joy of being in love, then moves to heartbreak, jealousy, and betrayal, and finally to resolution and reconciliation.

Hagoita (battledores) are wooden paddles, originating in Japan and used to play hanetsuki, though often serving a more ornamental purpose. They are usually painted, sometimes with lacquer, and feature auspicious symbols or complex, three-dimensional collages with silk, washi paper, or other cloth. Traditional hagoita commonly feature portraits of famous kabuki actors or characters. This tradition dates to the 17th century; decorative hagoita are still produced today. 

Hanetsuki is a traditional Japanese game played in a similar manner to badminton, but without the use of a net. Hanetsuki is popular during the New Year. There are two variations: one in which a single person attempts to keep the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible and another in which two people hit the shuttlecock back and forth.

Donated by Mrs. Jo Marsh, 1977
AB 77-4 b Battledore (front)