The clam's dream, elaborate structures portrayed with a clam shell and said to represent the undersea palace of the Dragon King of the Sea.
Preserved in Japanese artistic treatments of the clam (hamaguri) are some of the most esoteric of ancient Chinese beliefs. Taoists believed that the universe had been created from mists, plasmas, and other ethereal substances. Against this background, a number of animals, including the clam, which was thought to exhale special effluvia, assumed symbolic importance and came to be associated with Fata Morgana of imagined paradises. In Japanese art, this tradition is reflected in what are known as air castles (shin kiro) or the clam's dream, elaborate structures portrayed within a clam shell and said to represent the undersea palace of the Dragon King of the Sea. (Source: Merrily Baird, Symbols of Japan, pp.127-128)
Glazed ceramic (Seto)
Edo, 19th century
Height 6 cm (2 1/4 in)
Diameter 12.4 cm (4 3/4 in.)