The Cursed Year 1906

The year 1906 saw the first year of peace after the two-year Russo-Japan War. It was a time of great rejoicing because of the victory over a European power. In addition, Japan was being recognized worldwide as a great power.

1906 also saw a post-war recession that was difficult for many people. Many women’s associations were created around this time (and before the war, too), and these groups often collected money for the soldiers and helped the communities in different ways. As WW2 began (for Japan in the 1930s), these groups played a large role in driving the war effort.

Here are two cups from 1906, and they appear to be from the same Women’s Association (called 婦人会 fujinkai in Japanese).

a3

c

Note that they have a similar design: two birds encircled in bamboo, and one bird is feeding the other.

b1 

What is most interesting about these two cups is that they are dated unusually. They both are inscribed ‘明治丙午 Meiji Hinoemua [sometimes pronounced Heigo]’ which is 1906.

hon-007

This style of dating is rarely seen on cups. It is the 60-Year Chinese Sexagenary Cycle.

(Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexagenary_cycle)

Note that each year has a symbol, and each symbol pops up every 60 years, so Hinoeuma happened in 1846, 1906, 1966, and will next be in 2026. Retroactively, it works, too, the first one being 46 A.D. You can work out the others.

In Japanese lore, the Year Hinoeuma has some interesting superstitions. 1, there are a lot of fires in this year.  2, Women who are born in this year have a strong spirit. 3, Women who are born in this year are likely to kill their husbands.

And as any man with a hint of superstition in his bones can understand, women born in this year had a heck of a time finding a husband. Of course, 1906 had a strangley inordinate among of female children born, too, so that could have been a cause. Women who were born in this year and who never married often used the Hinoeuma Curse as an excuse.

In addition, the next time Hinoeuma came around (1966) the number of children born was very low. The popular media has blamed this on a bunch of people who did not want a daughter to be born in this year since she would be under the curse as well.

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