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AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)
AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)
AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)
AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)
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PROPERTY FROM A PRINCELY COLLECTION
AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)

EDO PERIOD (18TH CENTURY), SIGNED TOTO JU MYOCHIN SHIKIBU (SOSUKE)

Details
AN IRON ARTICUALTED SCULPTURE OF A MYTHICAL BEAST (SHACHI)
EDO PERIOD (18TH CENTURY), SIGNED TOTO JU MYOCHIN SHIKIBU (SOSUKE)
The russet-iron mythical beast with tiger head and fish body finely constructed of numerous hammered plates jointed inside the body; the mouth opens, the tongue moves, the fins open and the body bends, the head applied with elaborate horns and spines and the eyes of shakudo embellished with gilt; signature on underside
13 in. (28 cm.) long
Provenance
Previously sold in these Rooms, 11 September 2012, lot 109
Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, Kyoto
Literature
Harada Kazutoshi, ed., Jizai okimono (Articulated Iron Figures of Animals) (Kyoto: Maria Shobo, 2010), pl. 14.
Bakumatsu, Meiji no chozetsu giko, sekai wo kyogaku saseta kinzoku kogei (Excellent Techniques of Metal Crafts, the Late Edo and Meiji Period) (Shizuoka Prefecutre: Sano Museum, October 2010), exh. cat. pl. 161.
Jizai Okimono: Honmono no yo ni jiyu ni ugokaseru hebi ya konchu (Articulated figures: Movable representations from nature from snakes to insects) (Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum, November 2008), exh. cat. pl. 4 and fig. 3.
Exhibited
"Bakumatsu, Meiji no chozetsu giko, sekai wo kyogaku saseta kinzoku kogei" (Excellent Techniques of Metal Crafts, the Late Edo and Meiji Period), exhibited at the following venues:
Okayama Prefectural Museum, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture, 3 June-18 July, 2011
Osaka Museum of History, Osaka, 13 April-29 May, 2011
Sano Art Museum, Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 7 January-20 February, 2011
Sen-oku Hakukokan Bunkan Museum, Tokyo, 16 October-12 December, 2010
"Jizai Okimono: Honmono no yo ni jiyu ni ugokaseru hebi ya konchu" (Articulated figures: Movable representations from nature from snakes to insects), Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 18 November, 2008-1 February, 2009

Brought to you by

Takaaki Murakami
Takaaki Murakami Vice President, Specialist and Head of Department

Lot Essay

The sculpture is in the form of a mythical beast derived from an ancient Indian sea creature said to have the body of a fish and the head of a tiger, the literal meaning of its name “shachi” in Japanese. Shachi were favored by Japanese samurai as symbols of defense against fire, for the tiger-fish is associated with water. Pairs of shachi were made as corner tiles or as crests on end tiles of temples, samurai dwellings and castle gates throughout the Edo period. An alternate reading of the creature as a dragon fish, with head, as here, of a whiskered dragon, may have originated from a Chinese legend of a carp that was transformed into a dragon after ascending a powerful waterfall. Such connotations of striving against impossible odds appealed to the samurai clientele for whom the Myochin school of metalsmiths first made them as display pieces (okimono). The overlapping plates of the fish body are related to the riveted plates of Japanese armor that provide strong protection as well as mobility.
Myochin Shikibu worked in Edo, first under the name Shikibu and later Osumi no kami. His dated works include helmets from 1689, 1704 and 1707.
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