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Antique Japanese Bronze Okimono
Frolicking Shishi
Mock Fight
Early Meiji, circa: 1868-1911. Unsigned
H 7 in.(18cm.), W 12 in.(30cm.), D 6 in.(15cm.)
Condition: Good, possible old repair to tail

 

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In this beautifully carved and cast figural group, two shishi are seen frolicking in a mock fight that is sure to end in dominance of the larger shishi, who looms threateningly over the smaller pup. The composition is highly animated with flying fur and resplendent shishi tails waving and curling in the air. The wriggling limbs of the acquiescent underdog are finished to the last claw even though not all these details are easily visible. True to Japanese esthetic, the work is subtly carved and expressively powerful. The surface is a lush terrain, the bronze has darkened to a rich deep brown/black with much of the original gilding still in place on the animals’ ears. Equally strong in its mass and in its parts; an exceptional work of art.

During the Meiji, metalwork shared the prosperity of the ceramic industry, exhibiting intrinsic understanding of material, care in manufacture and attention the detail that constituted the norms of Japanese craftsmen in this period, particularly in the fashioning of extravagant tsuba, or sword guards. Upper classes and samurai traditionally carried two swords, a long and a short one, and lavished commissions on the best known tsuba masters When carrying two swords was forbidden in the late Edo, the market for fine tsuba. diminished and metalworkers of exceptional skill shifted to creating various types of artworks for export, incorporating western techniques which interested them into the new wares, which retained their distinctive Japanese character and fineness.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
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