Bronze Okimono

Antique Bronze and Gilt Samurai Figure with Fox Mask | Japanese Okimono By Miyao Eisuke of Yokohama | Meiji Period


Age:Late 19th/Century

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-0”h x 4-1/4”l x 2-0”w 

Shown is a very fine and exceptional mixed alloys figure using bronze making techniques known as “shakudo and shibuichi”. The expressive figure illustrates a seated child dressed in Samurai clothing by Miyao (workshop of Miyao Eisuke of Yokohama), Meiji Period, late 19th century. This bronze figure has rich brown patinas to the face, hands and feet, contrasting the darker bronze body that has intricate gold and copper details simulating a brocade-patterned garment. It is decorated with auspicious animals, lush blossoms amid incised scrolling leafy tendrils, with three swimming fish dispersed throughout the garment. This child figure is in full kimono with arm outstretched as he holds a silver shinogi-zukuri form blade sword. With his other arm he is holding a detailed fox mask, (Kitsune), on the top of his head and a small money bag on his waist at the back which is additionally ornamented. The piece is signed Miyao in ink on the bottom of the piece. This is a free standing figure and not attached to a stand as it was custom for larger pieces. The piece was purchased at auction in 1998 in Yokohama, Japan.

Antique Condition: Excellent and quite heavy, with the gold work and detailed elements intact. As is”, piece has not bee cleaned or restored, and retains the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, surface wear or structural damage is noted. 

NOTE: The Japanese metalwork craftsmen adapted their existing skills to manufacture a wide range of fine objects focused on traditional Japanese life.  Elaborate bronze Samurai warriors figures, (a favorite subject with Western clientele), and figures depicting artisans, performers, farmers, and Bijin, (beautiful women), as well as bronze animals, (tanuki, pheasants, eagles, owls, roosters to name a few, along with numerous articulated figures such as lobsters). Noh masks, which were commonly featured in traditional Japanese life. The Miyao Company, founded by Miyao Eisuke had production centers in Tokyo and Yokohama and produced fine three-dimensional objects in bronze with intricate gilt details. Pieces ranged in all sizes but his large Samurai figures we the favorite export item during this period.

These intricately designed items are not just meant to serve as decorative props but are actually deeply intertwined with the country’s history and artistic expressions. Even during Japan’s feudal era, masks were already being worn by samurai to frighten their enemies, and the use of masks were used avoid or express artistic and religious concepts, reflected in the societies spiritual devotion. This Japanese influence had a direct impact on many British artists notably the architect-designer William Morris, Edward William Godwin, and Christopher Dresser all who contributed to the Anglo-Japanese and Arts & Crafts movements.