Loading Spinner

Japanese Sculptures

The first-ever Japanese sculptures were made of clay in prehistoric Jomon period Japan. Some of the first known sculptural figures made by the ancient Japanese are the dogu and haniwa. Both styles are believed to have been used for rituals and buried with the dead.

Japanese dogu sculptures are shaped in a vaguely humanoid form with large, bug-like eyes and are ornately decorated with textures implying garments. These sculptures display a very distinct aesthetic sensibility towards stylization and patterning that is unique from Western, Chinese, or Korean influences. Similar to the dogu, haniwa sculptures more closely resemble real people.

Other early Japanese sculptures appear to have first and foremost served religious ceremonial purposes for either Buddhist practices or animistic Shinto rites. By the Edo period, sculptures of animals, people, historical figures, and mythical beasts were largely secular and popularized as not only objects within the home, but also as decorative accessories for garments.


Quick Facts

  • Historians estimate that the dogu were created from as early as 16,000 B.C. The most common belief is that sculpture and ceramic making first originated in mainland Asia and made its influence into Japan through trade
  • The hunter-gatherer lifestyle is very evident through the study of ancient Japanese sculpture. Sculptures were overall very small, likely for quickness and portability. However, as the culture became more sedentary, the Japanese began making larger and bulkier objects
  • Early Japanese sculptures were rooted strongly in religion and usually made for indoor use or within shrines. However, as sculptural practices became more secular, Japanese artists embraced the idea of outdoor and public sculpture and installations

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE HARDWOOD SCULPTURE
Dec 07, 10:00 AM GMT
19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE HARDWOOD SCULPTURE
by Sheppards
Est: €200- €300
€1200 Bids
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Pumpkin (Yellow & Black and Red & White)’, 2016
Dec 07, 4:00 PM GMT
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Pumpkin (Yellow & Black and Red & White)’, 2016
by Tate Ward Auctions
Est: £600- £800
£6000 Bids
A Beautiful Japanese Vine Sculpture
Dec 05, 6:00 PM AEDT
A Beautiful Japanese Vine Sculpture
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD2000 Bids
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CST
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
by Ravenel
Est: NT$9,000,000- NT$16,000,000
NT$6,000,0000 Bids
Japanese ivory Skull - Meiji period, 1868-1912
Dec 07, 3:00 PM CET
Japanese ivory Skull - Meiji period, 1868-1912
by Bertolami Fine Art
Est: €6,000- €8,000
€4,8000 Bids
Japanese Lacquered Wood Sculpture of Jizo on a Rootwood Stand
Dec 08, 11:00 AM EST
Japanese Lacquered Wood Sculpture of Jizo on a Rootwood Stand
by Stair
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
Zierschnitzerei.
Dec 09, 10:00 AM CET
Zierschnitzerei.
by Dannenberg
Est: €150- €180
€1500 Bids
塩田千春 Chiharu SHIOTA (Japanese, b.1972)
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CST
塩田千春 Chiharu SHIOTA (Japanese, b.1972)
by Ravenel
Est: NT$2,600,000- NT$4,000,000
NT$1,800,0000 Bids
塩田千春 Chiharu SHIOTA (Japanese, b.1972)
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CST
塩田千春 Chiharu SHIOTA (Japanese, b.1972)
by Ravenel
Est: NT$2,600,000- NT$3,600,000
NT$1,800,0000 Bids
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CST
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
by Ravenel
Est: NT$2,000,000- NT$3,600,000
NT$1,400,0000 Bids
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CST
草間彌生 Yayoi KUSAMA (Japanese, b. 1929)
by Ravenel
Est: NT$1,200,000- NT$2,200,000
NT$800,0000 Bids
Ecole Japonaise du Xxè siècle Sans titre
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
Ecole Japonaise du Xxè siècle Sans titre
by Crait-Muller
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Sculptures


Ravenel

Ravenel

Theodore Bruce

Theodore Bruce

Stair

Stair

Dannenberg

Dannenberg