Loading Spinner

Japanese Statues

Dogu clay figures are the earliest known statues made by the Japanese people. Only about 10 to 30 centimeters high, these sculptural figures were likely used in religious ceremonies, though the actual use is unknown. Approximately 15,000 dogu statues have been found throughout Japan, dating from 14,000 B.C. to about 400 B.C.

The large exaggerated thighs and the appearance of breasts on some figures indicates a female figure, while the deliberate cutting of limbs leads scholars to believe these works were perhaps part of a fertility ritual. During this time, haniwa statues were also created to be buried with the dead in funerary ceremonies, perhaps as substitutes for human sacrifices.

Following influences from China and Korea in the 6th and 7th centuries A.D., the preferred mediums for statue making were wood, bronze, or clay. Stone, while common for their neighbors, was not popular among the Japanese. Many statues were created for the purpose of Buddhist or Shinto religious practices and therefore took the form of Buddha or other deities within shrines.


Quick Facts

  • While “dogu” is known as a type of statue created during the Jomon period, dogu in Japanese refers to any human-like statue
  • Japan was the last of the major Asian countries to encounter Buddhism
  • Just like India, Korea, and China, Japan also had mythical lion-dog statues created and placed outside or inside the home for protection from evil spirits. Japanese lion-dogs, however, were rendered slightly differently. While there was still one open-mouthed lion statue, the other featured a horn on its forehead

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

A Fine Gilt Wood Japanese Buddha
May 29, 10:00 AM EDT
A Fine Gilt Wood Japanese Buddha
by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers
Est: $800- $2,400
$4003 Bids
Namban cross with Amida Nyorai buddha
May 23, 8:00 PM WEST
Namban cross with Amida Nyorai buddha
by Marques dos Santos
Est: €2,700- €3,600
€1,8001 Bid
JAPAN - PORCELAIN BUDDHA, 19TH CENTURY.
May 25, 2:00 PM CEST
JAPAN - PORCELAIN BUDDHA, 19TH CENTURY.
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €30- €60
€300 Bids
Japanese Meiji Buddha in gilt bronze, late 19th - early 20th Century.
May 23, 4:00 PM CEST
Japanese Meiji Buddha in gilt bronze, late 19th - early 20th Century.
by Balclis
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
A Japanese champlevé enamelled bronze figure of fasting Buddha Gautama, late Meiji (1868-1912), H 36 cm
May 29, 10:00 AM CEST
A Japanese champlevé enamelled bronze figure of fasting Buddha Gautama, late Meiji (1868-1912), H 36 cm
by Carlo Bonte Auctions
Est: €800- €1,200
€4000 Bids
Antique Japanese Carved Wood Saint
Jun 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique Japanese Carved Wood Saint
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$250 Bids
EDO PERIOD JAPANESE STANDING BUDDHA.
May 29, 10:00 AM EDT
EDO PERIOD JAPANESE STANDING BUDDHA.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
SUWA YOSHINOBU: A VERY LARGE AND IMPRESSIVE BRONZE FIGURE OF EMPEROR JIMMU, THE FIRST LEADER OF JAPAN
Jun 14, 10:00 AM CEST
SUWA YOSHINOBU: A VERY LARGE AND IMPRESSIVE BRONZE FIGURE OF EMPEROR JIMMU, THE FIRST LEADER OF JAPAN
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €1,500- €3,000
€1,5000 Bids
An imposing Japanese champlevé enamelled bronze figure of Kannon, late Meiji (1868-1912), H 103 cm
May 29, 10:00 AM CEST
An imposing Japanese champlevé enamelled bronze figure of Kannon, late Meiji (1868-1912), H 103 cm
by Carlo Bonte Auctions
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€1,0000 Bids
Japon. 2 moines bouddhistes en bois sculpté polychrome et doré. 1 auréole manquante. H : 30 cm
May 23, 6:30 PM CEST
Japon. 2 moines bouddhistes en bois sculpté polychrome et doré. 1 auréole manquante. H : 30 cm
by Hotel des vente Legros
Est: €200- €250
€2000 Bids
An imposing Japanese gilt lacquered standing Buddha Shakyamuni, Meiji period, H 101 cm
May 29, 10:00 AM CEST
An imposing Japanese gilt lacquered standing Buddha Shakyamuni, Meiji period, H 101 cm
by Carlo Bonte Auctions
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€1,5000 Bids
A BRONZE KORO CARRIED BY AN ONI
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A BRONZE KORO CARRIED BY AN ONI
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€6000 Bids
A GILT-WOOD FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A GILT-WOOD FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA
by Nagel Auction
Est: €5,000- €8,000
€5,0000 Bids
A PART-GILT CARVED WOODEN FIGURE OF SEATED BUDDHA
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A PART-GILT CARVED WOODEN FIGURE OF SEATED BUDDHA
by Nagel Auction
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€3,0000 Bids
SEATED BODHISATTVA NYOIRIN KANNON WOODEN STATUE, - height: 29 inches; width: 21 inches.
May 23, 11:00 AM EDT
SEATED BODHISATTVA NYOIRIN KANNON WOODEN STATUE, - height: 29 inches; width: 21 inches.
by Sloans & Kenyon
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7500 Bids
A BRONZE FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA ON WOODEN LOTUS STAND
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A BRONZE FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA ON WOODEN LOTUS STAND
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,200- €1,800
€1,2000 Bids
A VERY LARGE AND MASSIVE BRONZE FIGURE OF SEATED AMIDA BUDDHA
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A VERY LARGE AND MASSIVE BRONZE FIGURE OF SEATED AMIDA BUDDHA
by Nagel Auction
Est: €25,000- €35,000
€24,0000 Bids
A VERY LARGE AND MASSIVE BRONZE TEMPLE WATER FOUNTAIN WITH DRAGON SPOUT
Jun 14, 10:00 AM CEST
A VERY LARGE AND MASSIVE BRONZE TEMPLE WATER FOUNTAIN WITH DRAGON SPOUT
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €10,000- €20,000
€10,0000 Bids
BRONZE JAPANESE TENGU SCULPTURE
May 31, 10:00 AM CDT
BRONZE JAPANESE TENGU SCULPTURE
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $300
$500 Bids
A LARGE BRONZE SCULPTURE OF A STANDING GUARDIAN
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A LARGE BRONZE SCULPTURE OF A STANDING GUARDIAN
by Nagel Auction
Est: €3,000- €5,000
€3,0000 Bids
A LARGE BRONZE KORO WITH AN EAGLE FINIAL HELD BY A SAMURAI
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
A LARGE BRONZE KORO WITH AN EAGLE FINIAL HELD BY A SAMURAI
by Nagel Auction
Est: €1,500- €2,500
€7500 Bids
Early Japanese Gilt Wood Buddha
May 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Early Japanese Gilt Wood Buddha
by Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers
Est: $500- $1,500
$2500 Bids
AN EARLY WOOD FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA
Jun 11, 9:30 AM CEST
AN EARLY WOOD FIGURE OF AMIDA BUDDHA
by Nagel Auction
Est: €9,000- €12,000
€9,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Statues


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Carlo Bonte Auctions

Carlo Bonte Auctions

Galerie Zacke

Galerie Zacke

Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers

Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers