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Japanese Animal Statues

Japanese animal statues, despite fairly late conception in respect to Asian art history, bear great significance in Japanese culture in depicting and representing Japanese beliefs and folklore. Largely influenced by Chinese sculpture during the 5th century, the Japanese picked up many sculptural techniques and motifs from the Silk Route.

Many of these sculptural motifs were created for religious purposes – either for Shintoism or Buddhism. These supernatural deities were called “kami." Kami sculptures are usually inspired by existing animal forms and represent natural elements. One of the most obvious influences from Chinese statues in Japanese sculpture making is the Komainu.

The Komainu is equivalent to the Chinese “Foo-dog” or “Foo-lion." These lion-like statues are usually seen guarding the outside or inside of a Shinto or Buddhist shrine or temple. In most cases, one of the Komainu is represented with an open mouth, while the other’s mouth is closed. Together, the open and closed mouths represent the beginning and end of all things. Similarly, the Inari Okami is often placed outside of Shinto shrines.


Quick Facts

  • In Japanese culture, kami are neither all good nor all bad. Instead, they are both positive and negative and are spiritual elements of nature that are invisible to the human eye
  • A common Japanese animal sculpture is the Tanuki. The Tanuki are composite and shape-shifting raccoon-dog creatures historically known for being tricksters and evil spirits often haunting or possessing humans. Today, Tanuki are known more for amiable personalities and represent business success
  • Fried tofu is believed to be one of the favorite food of foxes. Therefore, fried tofu is commonly offered to Inari Okami to bring success to an individual’s life

Recommended Items at Auction

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Japanese Meiji Army Officer Sword
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Nov 05, 10:00 AM GMT
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Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
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Nov 14, 11:00 AM AEDT
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Oct 31, 8:00 AM EDT
ANCIENT CUSTOMS OF JAPAN WOODBLOCK PRINTS BY UCHIDA
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Nov 13, 2:00 PM GMT
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A BRONZE MODEL OF AN EAGLE ON A ROOTWOOD STAND
Nov 11, 9:30 AM CET
A BRONZE MODEL OF AN EAGLE ON A ROOTWOOD STAND
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3 Japanese woodblock pillar prints. 19th century.
Nov 14, 10:00 AM EST
3 Japanese woodblock pillar prints. 19th century.
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A JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINT BY UTAGAWA KUNISADA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
A JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINT BY UTAGAWA KUNISADA
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
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A JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINT BY UTAGAWA KUNISADA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
A JAPANESE WOODBLOCK PRINT BY UTAGAWA KUNISADA
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
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Nov 01, 2:00 PM PDT
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Est: $100- $300
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A Japanese porcelain vase with raised bird and flo…
Nov 14, 12:00 PM AEDT
A Japanese porcelain vase with raised bird and flo…
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Est: AUD200- AUD300
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Two Japanese Cloisonné Plates, late Meiji Period
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Two Japanese Cloisonné Plates, late Meiji Period
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD200- AUD400
AUD1001 Bid
Two Japanese Cloisonné Plates, late Meiji Period
Nov 14, 11:00 AM AEDT
Two Japanese Cloisonné Plates, late Meiji Period
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD200- AUD400
AUD1001 Bid
A BRONZE FIGUR OF A STANDING COURTIER HOLDING AN OPEN PARASOL AND A FAN
Nov 11, 9:30 AM CET
A BRONZE FIGUR OF A STANDING COURTIER HOLDING AN OPEN PARASOL AND A FAN
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,2001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Animal Statues


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Stallion Hill Gallery

Stallion Hill Gallery

Bonhams

Bonhams

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida