Together with the dragons and lobsters snakes were probably the most suited subject for the Myochin artists being perfect examples of the application of the concept of flexibility which is so central to Japanese linked iron plate armour. There are a number of fine examples in museum collections which date from the Edo period, some of which like the two pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and another in The Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum, Kyoto, are simply signed Myochin saku under the belly (Articulated Iron Figures of Animals, Harada Kazutoshi, Kyoto nos. 10 and 11, 3). Many bear the names of Myochin adopted by later artisits, such as the snake in the collection of the British Museum signed Muneyoshi, the art name of Tanaka Tadayoshi (d.1958) of the Takase Kozan (1869- 1934) studio in Kyoto (Ibid No. 12), and another in Tokyo National Museum with the same signature (No.13) of the Taisho – Showa eras.
The present dragon is signed Munekazu, the art name of Tomiki Isuke I (1853-1894) who tutored Kozan in Kyoto. It is composed of a series of linked rings having sharply-defined triangular scales which articulate closely to enable the model to be moved into realistic positions and closely coiled. It is believed to be the longest yet published.
For a dragon by the same artist in the Higgins Armory Museum, USA, (now closed), see Harada Kazutoshi, Jizai Okimono: Articulated Iron Figures of Animals, (Kyoto, 2010), p. 31, no. 4.