- 1 Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings
- 2 Motif Examples
- 3 Motif in Literature & Other Usage
- 4 Article Notes
|Seasonal Exceptions||All-Season, Auspicious|
Oshidori refers to the Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), a medium-sized perching duck. Like most ducks its plumage is dimorphic: the male is a riot of red bill, purple breast, splashes of iridescent green, and orange "sails" while the female is a subtle brown mostly distinguished by her white eye ring and stripe running away from her eye. Depictions of its plumage may vary widely, as it is easy to select for plumage variations in captivity. The most common (and obvious) variation is a white plumage, a case of incomplete albinism, which does appear rarely in the wild. Deforestation and loss of habitat have sharply decreased the number of breeding pairs in mainland Asia, but the species is in no danger in Japan.
Seasonal Use, Exceptions & Pairings
Oshidori are a winter motif. Most oshidori in Japan are non-migratory, but many oshidori from Asia migrate and overwinter in Japan. However, oshidori can be used out of season in auspicious contexts, especially weddings. A lovely-dovey couple in Japanese would be oshidori fufu (鴛鴦夫婦). 
Common Motif Pairings
- Auspicious motifs
Oshidori symbolize marital harmony, as the male returns to his mate after the ducklings are able to leave the nest, unlike other tree nesting ducks. Both males and females aggressively guard their ducklings until they are fledged. Oshidori are also known for huddling together in the winter as they overwinter in Japan.
Oshidori are also a symbol of the imperial house, more specifically the prince, as oshidori is a homynym for "take authority." 
Identification & Style Variations
Oshidori are most easily distinguished from other ducks by their colorful plumage and the distinctive "sails" and crest of the male.
Detail of male oshidori on Nagoya obi, from the collection of Yohmama-san
Albino oshidori on purple Nagoya obi, from the collection of Muhvi
Unusual pair of male oshidori embroidered on Nagoya obi, from the collection of KatyCrayon-san
Detail of oshidori on kurotomesode, from the collection of Muhvi
Motif in Literature & Other Usage
The use of a lonesome oshidori was often used as a metaphor for being parted from one's friend or lover in Japanese poetry.
Utagawa Hiroshige's humorous poem inscribed on the print of oshidori at right contrasts the oshidori's typical loving image with a pair of quarreling lovers.
|おし鳥の||Oshidori no||Mandarin ducks|
|わかれも見たり||wakare mo mitari||you can see also in|
|朝嵐||asa arashi||a morning storm|
Relevant Threads / Discussions
- Woven Treasures of Japan's Tawaraya Workshop Gallery Guide. Textile Museum. Washington DC. 2012. p. 11.
Images used with permission from and thanks to:
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Authors & Contributors
Author/s: tzippurah (IG Username)