Burl Root Sculpture

Japanese Burl Root Incense Burner of Daruma in Sanctuary Cave | Early 20th Century Root Sculpture

$485.00

Age:1946

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 7-0”h x 9-1/2”w x 8-1/2”d

The practice of using tree roots to make functional and decorative objects has been practiced in China and Japan since primitive society began the craft. "Formed by nature and shaped by humans" is this RARE root carving by a Japanese monk from the Hōrin-ji Temple better known as Daruma-dera, (Kyoto) in 1946 in an effort to gain donations from the temple’s worshippers to build the Daruma-dō (Bodhidharma Hall). 

This beautiful formed incense burner's purpose was first to preserve the natural beauty of wood and the roots’ natural form. Secondly, it was made to function as an incense burner carved and a wooden figure made by what is called ichiboku-zukuri or single block technique to create the image of Daruma, (Da Mo | Bodhidarma in Chinese) and housed it in an imagined environment. The head and body of Daruma are one unit and show him waking up, yawing, and seated inside his meditation cave. It shows great detail of his open and outstretched mouth in the characteristic Daruma yawn and illustrates his large thick eyebrows and closed eyes. Daruma is wrapped in a flowing robe around his body with a hood, (cowl) partially covering his head. The unattached free-form figure of Daruma (Futoo-oo) is seated on a silk fabric remnant (added sometime later in its history) with a small ceramic Dias, (platform) on the base just off to his right and used for burning cone incense. 

This is an object that would have been used in a home altar for daily worship or entrance and where one typically sees a Tokonoma, (alcove with objects that set the mood) and in some cases for guest participation in the tea ceremony. As shown through this creative interpretation, the root carving maintains the earthly form of the root leaving the natural qualities on the outside. Finally, the artist added a labor-intensive and complimenting burnt umber "urushi lacquer" work on the interior with wonderful hand-painted leaf motifs in black which beautify the upper portion of the cavity interior. This piece of folk art is of course unsigned and was purchased from the Yakata Antiques, Kyoto in 1998 where the historical data was obtained at purchase. The piece is published in Expression of Daruma in Folk Art, 2020.

The legend tells us that when the Chinese Shaolin Temple monks invited Da Mo to come to stay at the temple, Da Mo did not reply. Instead, he immediately went to a cave which was located on one of the Peaks in Henan, China (see woodblock inspirational image). Inside the cave, Da Mo sat down facing a wall and immediately began meditating for nine years. Da Mo later founded Chan Buddhism. This artifact is an interpretation of that original legend since Daruma was also influential in establishing Zen Buddhism in Japan and a focus at the Hōrin-ji Daruma-dera Temple.

Condition: This and all associated pieces are in very good condition for their age and show a beautiful and well-polished patination of the gnarled root container and shows the inherent qualities of the root and the carved figure of Daruma. Being a natural free form, the piece was attached to a wooden plinth with dowels when it was made to stabilize the piece. The bottom of the root varied slightly and shows a filling substance to fully balance and fully enclose the base of the piece. 

NOTE: The Hōrin-ji temple where the monk who created the piece resided was founded by a Rinzai Zen monk named Daigu Sōchiku in 1718. The construction of the temple complex took ten years and was completed under the head priest Mankai Jigen in 1727 with financing provided by Araki Iemon, a prominent merchant in the Muromachi district. In this aspect, Hōrin-ji differs from other temples in Myōshin-ji school, as the majority of them were financed by samurai families. The temple had its ups and downs since its founding and fell victim to three natural disasters, but was rebuilt every time from crafts produced and sold to patrons of the temple.

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Customer Reviews

One of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years

I recently purchased one of the most beautiful pieces I have purchased in over 10 years. The information you provided was excellent, the piece is in mint condition as advertised, with a subject matter I did not have in my collection.

— dbl

Delightful and well written book

Just downloaded my ebook on Sosaku Kokeshi. Excellent and so excited to see that you transposed the hardbound version. Exceptional large color images with great descriptions and details. It is so nice to have a copy I can carry when touring and when I am on-line shopping for Kokeshi. Also nice not to have to pay for international shipping.

— Author's name

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Vintage Kokeshi and its history is absolutely a topic thats close to my heart, so Im pleased that you wrote about it. Im also happy that you did the subject justice bringing the history of these creative artifacts to light. Not only do you know a great deal about it, you know the way to present the subject in a way that individuals will wish to read far more. Im so happy to know a person/site like you exists on the internet. I understand you are writing a book on Sosaku Kokeshi artists. That will be high on my list for there is nothing in English on the subject, and I am worried that the craftsmen and their creations will be lost as Japan becomes more western in attitude. Doomo arigato gozaimasu from Japan.

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I recently purchased your book on Kokeshi and what a find after collecting for over 10 years with no information to base my purchases on. Now I have YOUR ILLUSTRATIVE BOOK and it has truly opened my eyes. All the associated stories and folk tales give such light to my collection. A curator at the Japanese American National Museum in LA told me about this great resource. Your book happens to be astonishingly precise although I can understand why someone else has not written a book on the subject, because all the artists producing Kokeshi remain obscure and little information available has not been translated. Your book truly did switch the light on for me personally as related to Japanese folk art.

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We just received your new book, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition. Let us be the first to congratulate you on this superb follow-up to Kokeshi: Wooden Treasures of Japan. Your comprehensive text with its notes on the artists and the beautiful photography create a work that any collector of Kokeshi should have if they wish to develop an understanding of and knowledge about this Japanese folk art. We don’t know which is better (Does either have to be better?), the detailed textual information or the beautiful photographs. Both insist upon and rightfully demand spending time to enjoy and appreciate them. Thank you so much for adding to our appreciation of Kokeshi.

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My kokeshi collection has become more focused and personal now that I am able to recognize which dolls I am truly drawn to

Whether you are a kokeshi doll collector like I am, or exploring Japanese folk art for the first time, Sosaku Kokeshi – A New Look at an Old Tradition is a wonderful, informative resource for collectors and a lovely visual introduction to Sosaku dolls. I just purchased a copy of the book, and I could not be more pleased! With its beautiful colour photographs, signatures and profiles of the artists along with titles of the dolls, it is a well-researched, comprehensive resource. While some dolls featured in the book were familiar to me, I was also introduced to artists and dolls that I have never seen or heard of before.

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After we purchased the first one, we fell irresistibly in love

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We have amassed a small collection that we display proudly.

In spite of our limited background and only a little research to support our evaluation, Sosaku Kokeshi: A New Look at an Old Tradition is a magnificent work on the subject of these wooden dolls which make up a segment of the folk arts of Japan. The detailed background materials on the artists and the notes on the dolls can be an invaluable part of one’s collection. The marvelous photography is an excellent complement to the text, as we re-viewed the images many times, envying the owner of each doll.

— Koigirl

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Just want to say MAHALO — love my new jewelry box!! I wanted this tobacco box to hold my modest collection of jewelry. I tend to march to the beat of a different drummer most of the time, and I often repurpose items. When I saw this lovely Japanese box you were selling, I thought “bingo!” — perfect!! So, many thanks… and I hope to occasionally purchase an item now and then now that I know about you!

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I received your delightful Kokeshi book, and I am very grateful to have discovered this beautiful publication. The photographs are singular elegant portraits. It is wonderful you have included the calligraphy kanji signature of the craftsman, as important as the beautiful painted dolls. Your book gives provenance to my small treasured collection and a guide in my search for more. Exciting to also discover a few of mine already in your book. Many thanks again for gifting this special kokeshi edition and I hope to continue to share the joy.

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She was beautifully packed and arrived safe and sound. She is so gorgeous and I thank you so much for all that you have done along the way. You provide such a professional yet also personable business and it was a delight dealing with you.
Thank you for bringing such gorgeous items to our attention – these Kokeshis are ‘works of art’ and we are lucky to be able to purchase them and bring them into our lives and homes.
I had to send you a photo of her with her new family and I have to say, as you predicted, she fits in beautifully.
I shall keep an eye on your website for further ‘treasures’.

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