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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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A LACQUERED-WOOD SCULPTURE OF A WRESTLER
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A LACQUERED-WOOD SCULPTURE OF A WRESTLER
by Nagel Auction
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€2,0001 Bid
Antique Japanese Meiji Period Solid Bronze of Cat
Dec 04, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Japanese Meiji Period Solid Bronze of Cat
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
A patinated bronze model of a heron
Dec 11, 3:00 PM CET
A patinated bronze model of a heron
by Antenor Auction
Est: €300- €500
€3001 Bid
A CAST-BRONZE MODEL OF A TIGER
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A CAST-BRONZE MODEL OF A TIGER
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,2000 Bids
A CAST BRONZE MODEL OF A STANDING BEAR WITH HEAD TURNED TO THE SIDE
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A CAST BRONZE MODEL OF A STANDING BEAR WITH HEAD TURNED TO THE SIDE
by Nagel Auction
Est: €600- €1,000
€6000 Bids
Japanese Porcelain Maneki Neko Lucky Cat
Dec 17, 2:00 PM EST
Japanese Porcelain Maneki Neko Lucky Cat
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $75- $150
$600 Bids
vintage Andrea Sadek figural bird
Dec 05, 10:00 AM EST
vintage Andrea Sadek figural bird
by Yardley Antiques
Est: $100- $125
$300 Bids
Japanese Deco Bronze Sculpture of an Eagle, 1943
Dec 04, 12:00 PM EST
Japanese Deco Bronze Sculpture of an Eagle, 1943
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$1000 Bids
AN UNUSUAL MEIJI PERIOD JAPANESE PATINATED BRONZE ANIMAL GROUP
Nov 30, 9:30 AM GMT
AN UNUSUAL MEIJI PERIOD JAPANESE PATINATED BRONZE ANIMAL GROUP
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £1,000- £1,500
£5000 Bids
19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE METAL SCULPTURE
Dec 06, 10:00 AM GMT
19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE METAL SCULPTURE
by Sheppards
Est: €300- €500
€1800 Bids
19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE METAL SCULPTURE
Dec 07, 10:00 AM GMT
19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE METAL SCULPTURE
by Sheppards
Est: €300- €500
€1800 Bids
A FINE JAPANESE MEIJI PERIOD CARVED WOOD BIRD FIGURE GROUP
Nov 30, 9:30 AM GMT
A FINE JAPANESE MEIJI PERIOD CARVED WOOD BIRD FIGURE GROUP
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £2,000- £3,000
£1,0000 Bids
TWO WOOD AND BIZEN WARE SCULPTURES OF A RABBIT AND A TOAD
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
TWO WOOD AND BIZEN WARE SCULPTURES OF A RABBIT AND A TOAD
by Nagel Auction
Est: €400- €600
€4000 Bids
Japanese Silvered Bronze Mounted Black Marble Koi Sculpture, c1920 Taisho Period
Dec 04, 10:00 AM PST
Japanese Silvered Bronze Mounted Black Marble Koi Sculpture, c1920 Taisho Period
by Taylor & Harris
Est: $600- $800
$4500 Bids
A FINE CARVED MOVABLE BOXWOOD MODEL OF A DRAGON
Dec 08, 9:30 AM CET
A FINE CARVED MOVABLE BOXWOOD MODEL OF A DRAGON
by Nagel Auction
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€3,0000 Bids
3 Japanese Bronze Animal Figures
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
3 Japanese Bronze Animal Figures
by Material Culture
Est: $600- $1,200
$3000 Bids
Bronze Sculpture of a Crab, Probably Japanese
Dec 08, 11:00 AM EST
Bronze Sculpture of a Crab, Probably Japanese
by Stair
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
Japanese Modernist Bronze Striding Tiger, Signed
Dec 11, 10:15 AM EST
Japanese Modernist Bronze Striding Tiger, Signed
by Eddie's Auction
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
Antique Japanese Bronze Crane And Minogame Sculpture
Dec 06, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Japanese Bronze Crane And Minogame Sculpture
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$500 Bids
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Japanese Porcelain Foo Dog & Marble Stand
Dec 16, 11:00 AM PST
Japanese Porcelain Foo Dog & Marble Stand
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $40- $50
$200 Bids
A bronze Pekingese dog, marked on the bottom, on a wooden base. Japan, Meji period.
Dec 13, 6:30 PM CET
A bronze Pekingese dog, marked on the bottom, on a wooden base. Japan, Meji period.
by Medusa Auctioneers
Est: €2,000- €2,500
€2,0000 Bids
A dramatic and monumental bronze figure of a sea eagle on a rock. Meiji period
Dec 09, 11:00 AM CET
A dramatic and monumental bronze figure of a sea eagle on a rock. Meiji period
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €20,000- €25,000
€15,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Animal Statues


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Eldred's

Eldred's

Clark's Auction Company

Clark's Auction Company