This pair of small carved wooden Shinto amulets or charms is intended to ward off evil. The amulets are each shaped like a round human face with hair and other features carved in, and are attached to blue cords. There are Japanese characters in green and red on the backs of the amulets. The pair comes with a small wooden box with lid that has Japanese characters on it. AB 76-116 resembles the figure Okame from Japanese folklore, with chubby cheeks and a smiling expression.
In the Shinto religion, which is indigenous to Japan, divinity is manifested within nature itself. Mountains, rivers, and trees, for example, were thought to be the holy residences of the deities, or kami. Shinto, meaning "Way of the Gods," can be understood as a collection of practices, attitudes, and institutions that express the Japanese people's relationship with their land and with the lifecycles of the earth and humans. Shinto emerged gradually in ancient times and is distinctive in that it has no founder, no sacred books, no teachers, no saints, and no well-defined pantheon. Nor has it developed a moral order or a hierarchical priesthood, and it does not offer salvation after death. Shinto is sometimes seen more as a way of life rather than a religion by the Japanese due to its long historical and cultural significance. Shinto coexists with Buddhism, with many of the kami understood to be bodhisattvas as well and vice-versa.
Okame, also known as Uzume or Otafuku, the "homely woman," is a figure from Japanese folklore. Okame is often portrayed as the female counterpart of Hyottoko in traditional Japanese Kyogen theatre (both are somewhat comical figures). She is considered to be the goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art with her characteristic full cheeks and merry eyes. It is believed that Okame masks represent what was once an idealized form of feminine beauty.