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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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ANTIQUE JAPANESE MEIJI ERA BRONZE EAGLE ON PERCH
Mar 02, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE JAPANESE MEIJI ERA BRONZE EAGLE ON PERCH
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$3759 Bids
Pair of Rare Japanese Carved Wood Guardian Lions
Mar 09, 9:00 AM PST
Pair of Rare Japanese Carved Wood Guardian Lions
by Abell Auction
Est: $700- $1,000
$5503 Bids
A Japanese bronze Tortoise.5 x 4 cm
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Tortoise.5 x 4 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £30- £50
£251 Bid
AKASOFU GYOKKO (JAPANESE) BRONZE MODEL OF A GOSHAWK
Mar 14, 10:00 AM EDT
AKASOFU GYOKKO (JAPANESE) BRONZE MODEL OF A GOSHAWK
by Cordier Auctions & Appraisals
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,5001 Bid
A Japanese bronze Hippo 3 x 6 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Hippo 3 x 6 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£351 Bid
A Japanese bronze Camel 6 x 8 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Camel 6 x 8 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £30- £50
£251 Bid
A Japanese bronze Hippo 6cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Hippo 6cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £60- £80
£551 Bid
JAPANESE MEIJI BRONZE PHEASANTS SIGNED MASAMITSU.
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
JAPANESE MEIJI BRONZE PHEASANTS SIGNED MASAMITSU.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1,0001 Bid
Japanese Takahashi Ceramic Monkey, Pair
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Japanese Takahashi Ceramic Monkey, Pair
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $100
$101 Bid
A JAPANESE BRONZE RAT. 3.5ins long.
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A JAPANESE BRONZE RAT. 3.5ins long.
by John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: £40- £50
£350 Bids
Japanese Carved Wooden Monkey on Stand
Mar 03, 12:00 PM EST
Japanese Carved Wooden Monkey on Stand
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
A JAPANESE BRONZE DOG, 2.75ins.
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A JAPANESE BRONZE DOG, 2.75ins.
by John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: £50- £60
£450 Bids
A Japanese green patinated bronze of a bird standing on two gourds
Mar 08, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese green patinated bronze of a bird standing on two gourds
by Martel Maides
Est: £80- £120
£700 Bids
GROUP OF 2 JAPANESE WOOD WIND-UP ANIMALS
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
GROUP OF 2 JAPANESE WOOD WIND-UP ANIMALS
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $50- $150
$250 Bids
A JAPANESE BRONZE TIGER.
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A JAPANESE BRONZE TIGER.
by John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: £30- £40
£250 Bids
Bronze elephant, Japan, late 19th century- early 20th century
Mar 05, 5:00 PM CET
Bronze elephant, Japan, late 19th century- early 20th century
by Ansorena
Est: €600- €800
€4000 Bids
A PAIR OF BRONZE HORSES
Mar 07, 2:00 PM PST
A PAIR OF BRONZE HORSES
by Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc
Est: $8,000- $10,000
$3,0000 Bids
A JAPANESE BRONZE LIZARD. 5.5ins long.
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A JAPANESE BRONZE LIZARD. 5.5ins long.
by John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: £80- £100
£700 Bids
A Japanese bronze pig 3 x 7 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze pig 3 x 7 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£350 Bids
A Japanese bronze dragon fly 12 x 6.5 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze dragon fly 12 x 6.5 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£350 Bids
A Japanese bronze bulldog . 6.5 x 7 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze bulldog . 6.5 x 7 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£350 Bids
A Japanese bronze Bird . 16 cm
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Bird . 16 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £40- £60
£350 Bids
A Japanese bronze reticulating crab 10 x 13 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze reticulating crab 10 x 13 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £80- £120
£750 Bids
A Japanese bronze Spider.6 x 6 cm.
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Japanese bronze Spider.6 x 6 cm.
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £50- £75
£450 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Animal Statues


Hannam's Auctioneers

Hannam's Auctioneers

John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers

John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers

Martel Maides

Martel Maides

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