Broadcast on May 11, 2017
Available until March 31, 2029
This large fan is more than one meter wide. Both sides are richly decorated -- the front depicts the sun and 2 phoenixes, while the back shows the moon, with butterflies and flowers. It came from the Ryukyu Kingdom, a string of islands to the south of Japan. (They were annexed by Japan in the 19th century and now form today’s Okinawa.) The fan was made in the royal workshop and was among the gifts given by the king to priestesses for religious ceremonies. In the Ryukyus, it was believed that women protected men with their spiritual powers, and the king was supported by the queen. She also presided over religious activities, and a priestess was assigned to each island and village to serve the deity. The fan was a symbol of that important role. The sun represents the king, while the moon is the queen, and the fan was a sacred instrument symbolizing divine powers.