Vintage Japanese Lathe-Turned Young Lord Riding a Boar Spinning Top by Hiroi, Masaaki


Dimensions: 9-1/4”h x 6-0”l x 3-1/4”w

Hiroi, Masaaki, (1935-2019) was the first Japanese creator of automaton figures which began in the 1960s when prior these pieces were only for Japanese tourists but then these wonderful productions began to be looked at as “art) where people overseas began to appreciate his inventiveness. In 1970 Masaaki took his works to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The piece being offered was one of three pieces he introduced, The Boy and the Peach, The Noodle Eater, and the Young Lord Riding a Boar.

This wonderful Young Lord Riding a Boar is beautifully executed in both design as well as in mechanical sense. Firstly, the proportions of this automation toy are excellent and well-balanced. The boy is beautifully painted in full detail with expressive eyes, large distinctive ears, and clothing of the traditional period. The spinning top is fixed and wonderfully balanced, and used to operate the figure. Masaaki was quoted as saying, “The top represents our heart. If the axis spins smoothly, your life is on the right track”. This is why the “top” is the key to his automaton figures. This spinning top is beautifully painted in red and green stripes. The boar is left undecorated and unfinished displaying the natural wood. The boar's head is the part of the toy, other than the top, that moves. The boar's face is extremely cut with pointed ears, eyes, and an expressive snout with tusks, (long teeth) on each side. When one operates the toy you spin the top side to side and the boar's head moves back and forth as if when walking and has simply fashioned legs on which to stand. This piece was one of the first made for testing and the Japanese market. Later pieces were introduced in Europe that were miniature versions of the original three in which Masaaki revised the working mechanism. After this date, these pieces were signed since foreigners expected art to be signed. With the help of associates/apprentices, he created multiple similar toys performing simple daily functions from eating sushi, and mochi cakes, and playing musical instruments (see image from a newspaper article on his later works. 

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Condition: Pristine meaning the piece is perfect, totally original, and complete and functions as intended. No cracks, no breaks, no missing pieces, and retains its wonderful presence and is protected and treasured in respect of Masaaki’s automaton works. The artifact meets all the standards of the collectible Vintage Kokeshi toys and tops and without question a unique treasure for the Japanophile.