Antique Japanese Bronze Monkey Okimono Shosai


Shosai Casting 正齊鋳

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    Featuring Seven Japanese Macaques

    Form our Japanese collection, we are delighted to offer this Antique Japanese Bronze Monkey Okimono by Shosai. The Japanese Monkey Group formed as a male father monkey and his infants playing around and being mischievous with Persimmon fruit. The monkeys modelled as Japanese macaque monkeys (snow monkey). The bronze beautifully patinated with a highly lifelike and naturalistic casting signed to the underside Shosai 正齊鋳. The Bronze group dates to the Meiji Period (1868-1912) circa 1880.

    Japanese macaque (snow monkey) is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. They are known as snow monkeys because some live in areas where snow covers the ground for long periods each year hence their nickname. No other non-human primate lives further north or in a colder climate than the snow monkey. Individuals have brownish grey fur, pinkish-red faces, and short tails. Two subspecies are known and their conservation Status is of least concern. In Japan, the species is known as Nihonzaru ニホンザル,  日本 (Japan/Nihon) and saru 猿 (monkey) to distinguish it from other primates, but the Japanese macaque is the only species of monkey in Japan.

    The Japanese macaque features heavily in the religion, folklore, and art of Japan, as well as in proverbs and idiomatic expressions in the Japanese language. They are often seen in paintings, block prints and represented in all manner of carvings from Okimono to netsuke. Many of these art forms reside in the world’s most famous museums and collections, some of the most prominent pieces by artists such as Mori Sosen and Kawanabe Kyosai. In Shinto belief (Japan’s indigenous religion/nature religion) legendary mythical beasts known as raiju sometimes appeared as monkeys and kept Raijin (the god of lightning/storms) company. In another well known tale the three wise monkeys who warn people to “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” can be seen depicted in relief over the door of the famous Tosho-gu shrine in Nikko.

    Meiji Period was an era of Japanese history that spanned from 1868 to 1912. It was the first half of the Empire of Japan, when the Japanese people began to build a paradigm of a modern, industrialised nation state and emergent great power, influenced by Western countries and aesthetics. As a result of radically different ideas, the changes to Japan were profound and it affected the social structure, politics, economy, military, and foreign relations across the board. The period corresponded to the reign of Emperor Meiji and was preceded by the Keio era and was succeeded by the Taisho era.

    Cultural Art during the Meiji Period was of particular interest to the government and they overhauled the art export market which in turn promoted Japanese arts via various world’s fairs, beginning in Vienna at the world fair in 1873. The government heavily funded the fairs and took an active role organising how Japan’s culture was presented to the world including creating a semi-public company named Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha (First Industrial Manufacturing Company). The Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha was used to promote and commercialise exports of Japanese art and established the Hakurankai Jimukyoku (Exhibition Bureau) to maintain quality standards. For the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, the Japanese government created a Centennial Office and sent a special envoy to secure space for the 30,000 items that would be displayed. The Imperial Household also took an active interest in arts and crafts, commissioning works by select artists to be given as gifts for foreign dignitaries further emphasising the high quality and importance of Japanese art. Just before the end of the 19th century in 1890, the Teishitsu Gigeiin (Artist to the Imperial Household) system was created to recognise distinguished artists. These artists were selected for their exceptionally high quality wares and talent in their own industry. Over a period of 54 years Seventy artists were appointed, amongst these were ceramicist Makuzu Kozan and cloisonné enamel artist Namikawa Yasuyuki.

    Bronze an alloy consisting primarily of copper with approximately 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (including aluminium, manganese, nickel, or zinc) and sometimes non-metals, such as phosphorus, or metalloids such as arsenic or silicon depending on the age of the bronze and its origin. The additions of other metals produce a range of alloys that are usually harder than copper alone and carry useful properties such as strength. The earliest known use of bronze dates to the 5th millennium BCE from Iranian plateau, the bronze mix consists of arsenical copper and copper-arsenide. The earliest tin-copper-alloy recovered is dated to circa 4650 BCE and was found in Plocnik, Serbia. It is believed to have been smelted from a natural tin-copper ore.

    Antique a collectable object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality. Objects of this nature are generally considered antique at 100 plus years of age.

    Measurements 18cm Wide x 16cm Deep x 13cm High ( 7 x 6.3 x 5.1 Inches)

    Condition Excellent

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