Wooden Japanese Kanban Depicting the Zen Patriarch Daruma | Meiji Era Wooden Japanese Kanban Depicting the Zen Patriarch Daruma | Meiji Era

Japanese Antique Wood Shop Sign | Kanban

Wooden Japanese Kanban Depicting the Zen Patriarch Daruma | Meiji Era


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 15-0”h x 12-1/2”w x 3-1/4”d

This was a medicine vendors Kanban employs single-blade carving (itto-bori), and made from one large piece of Beech wood depicting a determined looking Zen Patriarch Daruma. This shop sign only focuses on the features of his face and big wide eyes and black, upper looking pupils, overly exaggerated ear and framed by ample black eyebrows and beard. He has the typical expressive mouth highlighted in red lacquer which gives him a stoic look. Included is the beige ‘fly whisk’ (byakuhotsu, a sign of authority), carved in high relief with highlighted red hand piece. As with this Daruma Kanban each are hand painted so no two Daruma have the exact same visual appearance. 

Shop signs had to be more than great graphic design and were very expressive and were created by craftsmen, frequently carving and painting, and were hung outside the store so that shopkeepers could take their signs in at the end of the business day. Most of these mom-and-pop shops that incorporated Daruma signs were to be constant reminders of what the Japanese call the “ganbaru” spirit, (life filled with pitfalls), and represents three things: the companies goal, the companies action, and the outcome based on working towards your dream and achievement while keeping ones eyes wide open.

Collectors look for Tokugawa and Meiji merchant signs that have creative and witty designs as seen in this large piece, and seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement.

Condition: Excellent well preserved condition commensurate with age and use.

NOTE: Kanban are Japanese traditional shop signs that merchants display on the street to advertise their presence, imply the products and services to be found inside their shops. Created from various materials: wood, bamboo, iron these unique objects evoke the frenetic market scenes in Japan where merchants created worldly symbols and meaning designed to entice customer traffic.