This piece, called a “Rice-eating mouse – Komekui Nezumi” is a handmade spring action folk toy which gave inspiration to the development of the now famous anime, (Anime began at the start of the 20th century when Japanese filmmakers experimented with animation techniques which is now a major at most universities around the world). This toy is made of dark stained Kiri (Paulownia) wood, and has a bamboo spring, (reinforced in the middle of the spring for added strength), that is attached to the mouse and base, which acts like a mechanical spring to give the mouse its motion. When the bamboo bow is pressed the head and the tail of the mouse dip down which causes the mouse to look like it is “eating rice” from a small, red topped dish fashioned from bamboo.
These animated figures were originally made by lower ranking Samurai of the Kaga region, (presently referred to as the Ishikawa prefecture), to supplement their income and for which they adopted the ideas and designs from the popular and antique Karakuri dolls (Karakuri-zui of the Edo period). Included in this offering is an original uncancelled stamp, in a hand formed brass frame which was produced in 1960, (the Year of the Rat), when this specific toy was adopted as the New Year Stamp Design from a Nationwide competition hosted by the Japanese Postal Service.
There is a paper stamp on the bottom of this wonderfully crafted piece that refers to the “Edo Nishiki,” in 1773 which illustrates numerous animated animals of this type. The piece is in its original excellent and in working condition. Age: Pre-1960’s. Dimensions: 3-½”d x 2-1/2”w x 3-1/4”h.
Additional Information —
In 1830, (Tempo era), there was a great famine in Japan, due to the failure of the rice crop which is Japan’s food staple. This little mouse eating rice was a humorous if not a sad caricature of lean times. The mouse/rat is the first animal listed in the Asian Zodiac, and considered a very auspicious symbol. Nezumi, refers to either rodent who were considered a constant companion of Daikoku, the lucky god who brings out the riches of the land by striking the ground with his magic mallet.
Excellent Condition- In unused, or like-unused condition. No visual or structural or surface wear or damage shown. Pristine. As good as the day it was made.
Great Condition- Appears in slightly used condition but looks "Like New". Some minor wear, but retains the original craft/workmanship. May show minor wear, that does not affect the main design, or associated motif. No cracks, dents, chips or missing elements.
Good Condition- Minor wear which can be restored or repaired; may have surface flaws, like staining or soiling, confined to a small area. The flaw(s) are counterbalanced by another feature, like brilliant color or innovative design. Some fading or the piece may have been altered in some fashion.
Fair Condition- Main aesthetic/design showing damage. Excessive noticeable wear or damage. Worth buying if can be restored/repaired because of its aesthetic or design appeal or rarity. Note: wear/damage consistent with age/use can often enhance the 'Antique' qualities of a piece, giving it a desirable second chance in one's collection