Vintage Japanese Nata-bori Carving of Bodhidharma (Daruma)
Dimensions: 9-1/2”h x 6-3/4”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 a rich patina, a discerning expression, large stylized eyebrows, contemplative eyes, and minimally carving representing his beard. Daruma is the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism and the symbolism behind these religious carved figures. They are about an ideal relationship between humans and nature, about acceptance and humbleness, about a beauty that is more akin to poetry, and about the consciousness of "the perfect imperfection". In this encompassing wood, the sculpture is shown merging with the natural form of a tree root, half hidden by his rustic cloak. Daruma is credited as the Patriarch of Buddhism in Japan that came to be known as Zen. This carving is made of naturally dark, 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.
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 the great natural character leaving them in their original shapes. The wood has a red-toned heartwood which can be seen in the body and heads of the carving which causes the viewer to be drawn to Daruma’s characteristic expression. This coloration gives the woodcarving pieces their individuality. Over time, the color of the wood darkens and the richness of the wood has gained appeal in this craft. 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 in place and for the viewer's appreciation. The piece is unsigned.
Condition: Exceptional condition meaning that the piece retains a beautiful finish, and retains the original craft/workmanship. No discoloration, no chipping or cracking, surface wear, or structural damage was noted. Museum quality: meeting the highest standards of Japanese Folk art
Nata-bori utilizes Japan’s natural resources to create Buddhist art which 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 left in it natural state 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.