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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

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Pair of Ebisu and Daikoku wooden carvings
Mar 07, 12:00 PM GMT
Pair of Ebisu and Daikoku wooden carvings
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Est: £200- £600
£7002 Bids
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Mar 24, 1:00 PM CST
UNKNOWN ARTIST - Crane
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$281 Bid
TWO 18TH-19TH CENTURY SOUTH EAST ASIAN BONE CARVINGS, plaque 15.5cm, figure 12cm high (2).
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TWO 18TH-19TH CENTURY SOUTH EAST ASIAN BONE CARVINGS, plaque 15.5cm, figure 12cm high (2).
by John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: £80- £120
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A LARGE AND RARE GILT BRONZE AVALOKITESVARA WITH ATTENDANTS
Mar 07, 2:00 PM PST
A LARGE AND RARE GILT BRONZE AVALOKITESVARA WITH ATTENDANTS
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A CARVED RUSSET AND WHITE JADE BOULDER
Mar 07, 2:00 PM PST
A CARVED RUSSET AND WHITE JADE BOULDER
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A PALE CELADON JADE STUPA
Mar 07, 2:00 PM PST
A PALE CELADON JADE STUPA
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ANTIQUE JAPANESE ROOT WOOD ONI DEMON SCULPTURE
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE JAPANESE ROOT WOOD ONI DEMON SCULPTURE
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Est: $100- $150
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Japanese Tama Sculpture, 19th Century.
Mar 09, 10:30 AM PST
Japanese Tama Sculpture, 19th Century.
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Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
Bike
Mar 07, 3:00 PM JST
Bike
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Est: ¥150,000- ¥200,000
¥150,0000 Bids
UNKNOWN ARTIST - Jurojin, God of Longevity
Mar 24, 1:00 PM CST
UNKNOWN ARTIST - Jurojin, God of Longevity
by Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting
Est: $400- $500
$1600 Bids
Japanese sculpture
Mar 10, 11:00 AM EST
Japanese sculpture
by Treadway Gallery
Est: $150- $250
$750 Bids
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Red Pumpkin Naoshima', 2019
Mar 20, 6:00 PM GMT
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Red Pumpkin Naoshima', 2019
by Tate Ward Auctions
Est: £300- £500
£3000 Bids
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Pumpkin (Yellow & Black and Red & White)’, 2016
Mar 20, 6:00 PM GMT
Yayoi Kusama (Japanese 1929-), ‘Pumpkin (Yellow & Black and Red & White)’, 2016
by Tate Ward Auctions
Est: £600- £800
£6000 Bids
Covilhete em tartaruga lacada do século XIX Período Meiji Comp. aprox.: 24,5 cm
Mar 11, 7:00 PM WET
Covilhete em tartaruga lacada do século XIX Período Meiji Comp. aprox.: 24,5 cm
by Palácio do Correio Velho
Est: €200- €400
€2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Sculptures


Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting

Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting

Tate Ward Auctions

Tate Ward Auctions

John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers

John Nicholson's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers