Pair of komainu 狛犬

Price:  8.500,00

Pair of impressive, large wooden figures of komainu 狛犬 (Shinto guardian lion-dogs) carved from solid hardwood displaying remnants of pigment and gesso.

Each bearing a fierce expression: one with an open mouth and the other with a closed mouth, articulating the syllables “ah” and “um,” and featuring reverse-painted glass eyes in black and gilt. Their facial features are marked by bushy brows and manes, with the closed-mouth lion distinguished by a horn on its head. Both are seated on their haunches, their flaming tails arched upwards.

Male and female pairs of shishi guard the approaches to the holy enclosures of Shinto shrines. They are usually known as komainu (literally ‘dogs of Koma’ – Koma meaning Kokuryo, one of the three countries of ancient Korea). The lion not being indigenous to Asia, the concept of the shishi was probably originally introduced to Japan through China and Korea via India from the Middle East.

They are found in Shinto shrines from the late Heian period onwards standing to the left and right of a pathway or entrance. That on the right has an open mouth, and that on the left has a closed mouth said to signify the universal sounds ‘ah’ and ‘um’ – the beginning and the end.

Both with carved inscriptions on the bottom:
‘Carver Muraishi’
彫刻師村石
and
‘Okawa town Enokizu region (Aichi prefecture)
Muraishi Kichitarô
woodworker’
大川町榎津
村石吉太郎
刻作

Period: Japan – Early Meiji period (Second half 19th century), but they could be even older.

Approx. dimensions:
Height 56-57.5 cm, Length 51-47 cm, Width 25 cm.

Despite their age, they are in good original condition with age-appropriate wear. The loss of pigment is due to outdoor placement over several years, as intended. Notable are a crack in one glass eye, some losses, chips, and expected age-related cracks. The photos provide a clear reference for their condition. Please have a look at the photos for a clear condition reference.

When shipped we will add a certificate of authenticity.

Ref. No. : C2146

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