Posted 2 years ago
This cast iron plaque is 8.5" wide x 8" high x 1" deep and weighs 4 lbs 5 ounces.. There is a notation and date (1965) on the back. It came in a wooden box which might be considered a tomobako, or just a box. The box appears to be hand signed, so this may be an artist's piece. There is an indistinct maker's mark on the back, I think. It has a faux copper or bronze finish. I think this a protective plaque depicting the Chimata-no-kami, or "road folk spirits" who protect travelers. I purchased this from a dealer in Japan who had a slightly different perspective on the beings on the plaque, but I am pretty sure that I am correct in my identification.
Chimata-no-kami, in Japanese Shinto lore, were known as the “road-folk spirits” or “goddesses of innumerable roads.” Chimata-no-kami is actually two guardians combined into one: Yachimata-hime and her consort, Yachiamata-hiko. Travelers would petition their protection against ghosts, haunted buildings, demons, and other such specters.