Vintage Japanese Nata-bori Carving of Bodhidharma (Daruma)

Sale price$225.00 Regular price$295.00
Save 24%

Dimensions: 8-1/4 x 7-1/4”w x 4-0”d

Offered is a Japanese classic antique Nata-bori, single block hatchet carvings of two Daruma heads growing out of one piece of wood both having detailed faces with rich patina, a discerning expression, large stylized eyebrows, contemplative eyes, and minimally carving representing his beard. The one unusual element is that there is tree sap coming from the top of his head which we understand represents a living component of this carving. In this encompassing wood sculpture is shown the merging with the natural form of a tree root, half hidden by his rustic hooded cloak, (cowl) rests on the back of his neck and around his shoulders. His robe seems to be blowing in the wind brought about by the natural configuration of the tree. The irregularities and knots have been left in place, accentuating the rustic mood. This form of Daruma were said to be possessed of supernatural power, that if properly worshipped and honored, would protect families and villages.

Nata-bori woodcarvings is an exceptionally rare and large double figure carved with only chisels, using a “partial carving” technique, which utilizes wood burls or other chunks of wood with great natural character leaving them in their original shapes. The root has a red and white toned heartwood which can be seen throughout the carving which causes the viewer to be drawn to Daruma’s aura generated by this religious icon. Over time, the color of the wood darkens and the richness of the wood has gained appeal of this craft. The coloration of the entire form gives the carved piece its individuality. What is the most unique feature of this carving is that the figures look as if they are growing out of the tree for the base of the carving is all natural with all the beautiful natural features.

This carving is made of a naturally dark and extremely dense root wood. The irregularities and knots have been left in place, accentuating the rustic mood. All elements carved into the wood are admirably done; however the remarkable face of Bodhidharma is the center and the highlight of this work. This wood carving is  referred to as Nata-bori woodcarvings are made from the base of a Japanese yew in which the carving has not been colored in order to bring out the natural beauty of the wood grain. The piece is signed in red on the bottom but is not clearly readable.

Condition: Exceptional condition meaning that the piece retains a beautiful finish, retains the original craft/workmanship. No discoloration, no chipping or cracking, surface wear or structural damage noted. Museum-quality: meeting the highest standards of Japanese Folk art 

Additional Information:

Nata-bori utilizes chunks of wood with great natural character leaving them in their original shapes. Since there are excellent woods among Japan’s natural resources, woodcarving as a Buddhist art has had a long and significant history in that country. The most effective Daruma carvers exhibited their reverence for wood in using this carving technique, which leaves a large portion of the figure uncarved to preserve the wood’s own contribution to the shape and texture of the ultimate product. These carvings epitomize both the creative energy and the conceptual richness inherent in Japanese folk sculpture.