O-daiko, ca. 1873
O-DAIKO, a barrel drum played in temples, theater orchestras and at festivals. This unusually ornate o-daiko, with its cloisonné stand and body, was made by order of the Japanese government for the Vienna Exposition of 1873, the first in which Japan participated formally as a nation. The drum’s cowhide skins, decorated with lacquer-work dragons were never sounded. Instead the drum is a symbol of peace as indicated by the presence of a rooster atop the instrument. An ancient story tells of a drum placed at a village gate to sound an alarm during an attack. As the years passed the drum was never used. Hens and roosters began to live in the drum and this image became an emblem of contentment and peace.