Greetings to the wonderful people on this list.
I had asked about litle bags with herbs in them that I had read about somewhere. I finally found them. Thank you all for encouragement and help. Now I need a good translation of "The Pillow Book". One door opens and there are ten more behind it.
Do a search for Sumakov lecture #5
Kusudama - Magic Sphere
KUSUDAMA (薬玉) is the Japanese word that stands for "healing sphere", as 薬KUSU means "healing herbs" and 玉TAMA (DAMA) a ball, spherical shape. When the words "KUSU" and "TAMA" are combined, there is a change of the sound "T" to "D" and the word "KUSUDAMA" results. Originally it was an ornamental scent bag, but now it is used generally to describe "decorative paper ball" usually made in origami technique out of several modules connected together with or without glue to form a sphere.
We can read notes about Kusudama in the Japanese literature of the 10th-11th centuries. For instance, in The Pillow Book (Makura no Soshi) by Sei Shonagon, where she offers her observations and musings of court life during the 990s and early 1000s in Heian Japan, she also mentioned how they used Kusudama in so many ways
Inside of these colorful pendant paper spheres were put aromatic herbs and they were hung up in sleeping rooms above the pillows and on curtains, believing that they protect people from illnesses and evil spirits. During the holiday, people were sauntered up with Kusudama attached to clothes: men attached them on their belts, and women decorated their sleeves with kusudama. Just imagine how they showed off!
On the seasonal holiday of the fifth day of the fifth moon in old Japan, Kusudama were acceptable gifts to give to each other. And they were used as charms or talismans to bring good fortune. Also on that seasonal holiday, people usually decorated rooms with Kusudama amulets and left them there until the next seasonal holiday called "the ninth day of the ninth moon" or "The Chrysanthemums Holiday" when kusudama balls were replaced by Chrysanthemum flowers. In modern Japan, May 5 (the fifth day of the fifth moon) is known as the Boy's Festival or the Children Day, and it still in their custom to use Kusudama as decorations.
Kusudama balls themselves used to be embellished with tassels from threads of different colors.
On Kusudamas, the short article from "Things Japanese", by Mock Joya, the Japanese journalist, who died in 1963 is informative and deserves to be quoted:
"When new restaurants or pichinko halls are opened many wreaths of artificial flowers and also several kusudama, or bright balls of blossoms with long tassels of many colours are displayed at the entrance. This use of kusudama is quite recent. Formerly it was used only on such festive occasions as New Year, Dolls' Festival or May 5, Boys' Festival.
"Kusudama (medicine ball) is believed to have originated in the Heaian Period (794 - 1192). At first fragrant woods and herbs were placed in a small cloth bag, which was decorated with blossoms of sobu or iris and other flowers. Long silk threads of five different colours were attached to it. This was hung in the house on May 5 to dispel evil spirits and disease.
The Emperor invited nobles and officials to Butokuden Palace on this day and gave to each a kusudma and drinks of sake. It was a ceremony to insure the happiness and good health of all. This ancient custom of giving kusudama continued until the beginning of the 17th century. It was discontinued by the Emperor Gomizuo (1611-29). "Since that time, kusudama has lost all its connection with Court functions. It came to be used as an ornament in the households of the common people, or as a plaything for children. Thus, the original meaning of kusudama to ward off evil and sickness with the fragrant medicines and woods became forgotten."