Japanese Susano-Bori Wood Carving

Sasano-Bori Folk Craft | Vintage Japanese Hand Carved Wagtail Swallow (Ochiu-Jiiri) Figure


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 1-3/4“w x 6-0”l

Offered is a beautiful Sasano-Bori carving of a beautifully detailed Wagtail Swallow is made of pine. The face and body are creatively painted in grey and black and have a carved long tail and wings which enhances the three-dimensional qualities of this figure. The Japanese Ainu folklore tells the story of this little bird fluttering over the waters, splashing water aside and then he packed patches of the earth firm by stomping them with his feet and beating them with his tail. An Okikurumi legend shares the Japanese belief that the wagtail is a ‘bird of passion’ or ‘desire’ and acts as Cupid and instructs the husband and wife in their conjugal studies. Japanese craftsmen and artists have made crafts and toys for many centuries for it is one of their favored motifs. It is stamped Made in Japan on the bottom of the piece and comes in its original cardboard box.

Vintage Condition:Excellent with unusual painted detail work giving depth to the finish. “As is”, and retains the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage is noted.

NOTE: About 1100 years ago, Sasano carving began as a charm, hand-carved and painted by farmers in honor of the goddess of Sasano, in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. This technique has been handed down from generation to generation and was well-known to most Japanese people in the 17th century. Due to the slow economy in Yonezawa at that time, the then shogunate, Yozan Uesugi, actively promoted the carving industry to improve the economy.

Sasano-Bori is made of pine or walnut, Koshiabura, and Eniyu and known for the simple rustic, pastoral beauty, strength and flexibility, and age beautifully while supporting a technique that is intricate in its construction. "BORI" means carving by chisels. This art has been made with well-trained strokes of a special chisel and even curled thin carving to simulate feathers and shuttlecocks of the birds using the natural look of the material.

Sasano-Bori requires special chisels called Sarukiri and Chijire. The craftsman uses the ax-like Sarukiri as a knife and makes very detailed carvings on a single piece of wood. Several kinds of sharp knives are used to carve and whittle the wood.

There are many different kinds of Sasano-bori each carving has its own meaning. The most famous Cock Hawks, (Otaka Poppo), with other carvings including the Peacock, Turkey, Pheasant, Wagtail Owl, Horned Owl, Wagtail Sparrow, Turtle, (‘straw raincoat-turtle’), Monkey, Wild Boar, Cow, and Rabbit. This rural elegance can be seen in the resulting distinctive style, which is unparalleled in the field of folk crafts.