|Precious coral, a gift from the ocean / Japan Coral Association|
of Precious Coral / Jewelry History /
Coral Jewelry /
Artistic crafts / jewelry
The Romans put precious coral in cradles, wishing for the healthy growth of the child and soldiers went to war wearing precious coral to avert harm.
In the Buddhist scriptures, coral is one of the seven treasures along with gold and silver, and Buddha statues and Buddhist objects are often decorated with coral.
Especially for Tibetan Buddhists, coral along with turquoise is indispensable. Islamic prayer beads and Hindu accessories also contain coral.
Coral must have been treasured by the British royal family as well. When members gave birth, as legend goes, they customarily carried coral with them praying for a safe delivery. When a baby girl was born, she was put in bed along with coral until her first birthday. The customs spread among the wealthy classes in the Middle Ages.
Mediterranean coral was brought to Japan along the Silk Road in the Nara period (710-794). Even when Japan closed its doors to the outside world in the Edo period (1603-1867), coral came through the island of Dejima, the Dutch trading port in Nagasaki Prefecture. Coral products were usually among the dowries of daughters of the shoguns and feudal lords. Common people used coral as ornamental hairpins, obi-dome brooches, and small carvings called netsuke.
Since the harvesting of high quality precious coral began off Tosa in Kochi Prefecture in the latter part of the Edo period, the methods and jewelry-making techniques have been developed and passed on from generation to generation in the prefecture. Currently approximately 80% of domestic coral products are manufactured in Kochi.
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