Japanese Ittobori Carving of a Rooster and Hen | The Divine Bird of Ise

The rooster symbol can be found in many cultures of Asia but it happens to be most venerated in Japan. For the Japanese people the rooster is a sacred animal. Therefore roosters are allowed to roam freely around Shinto Temples (i.e., Great Shrine of Ise) where it is believed according to the Japanese tradition that the rooster gives the morning call to the goddess Amaterasu, thus driving away darkness and the forces of evil that day. The Shinto religion is a nature based religion seeing omnipresent gods in all aspects of the natural environment. The Japanese Torri gate marks the entrance to every Shinto shrine, and acts as the symbolic perch from which the rooster greets the rising sun, which is an icon for the Japanese nation.

The rooster exemplifies a number of virtues. The comb symbolizes civil merit whereas the spurs are taken as military merit. The fighting ability of the rooster makes it a symbol of courage whereas its’ crowing gives it the representation of reliability. This Japanese Ittobori carving of a rooster and hen represents the zodiac sign “Year of the Rooster”, and is made of Camphor wood (Camphor has been used in Asian countries for many centuries as a culinary spice, a component of incense, and as a medicine).

Ittobori is a wood sculpturing technique that uses just one tool, a chisel. Each piece is carved from a block of wood. As with both pieces, you see the angles made by the chisel, which are left in angular shapes representing the cut. This folk craft goes back hundreds of years, with the most popular subjects being Noh Masks and the twelve animals of the Zodiac. While most Ittobori carvings are unadorned, this pair is very unusual because of the delicate painting and captured expressions. This pair was made in the Mie Prefecture. Dimensions: Rooster: 1-1/2”w x 2-0”d x 3-0”h — Hen: 1-3/8”w x 2-1/2”d x 1-3/4”h

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