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These lively 18th century prints are the inspiration for the designs on the sumo postage stamps. They are rich in Shogunate period detail, such as the courtly costumes worn by the gyoji (referee) and the shinpan, as the honbasho judges are called. These same costume designs are in use today, right down to the mawashi, or silk loincloths, of the sumotori. There are four important articles of sumotori dress illustrated on these stamps. First is the kesho-mawashi, an apron worn by contestants during ring-entry ceremonies, embroidered with the emblem of their noble patrons. (Figure 6). The mawashi itself, the only piece of clothing worn during the bout, varies in style and color with the rank of the wearer, can measure 30 feet in length and weigh up to 11 pounds. Adorning the mawashi is a string skirt known as the sagari, an echo of the knotted cords seen hanging before Shinto shrines, and serving a decorative purpose.

                  Figure  6


Champions Tanikaze and Onogawa in Ring Entry Ceremony

by Shunsho 18th century