Featured Japanese Figurine

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Ghopper1924, May 20, 2019.

  1. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    I'm rather new at looking at Japanese ivory figurines, so I hope you'll be patient.

    This guy was purchased by my great aunt (long deceased) in Japan on a trip in the early 1950s. I think it's ivory because of the smooth, heavy feel and the thumbprint-like Schreger lines visible in the base. Don't know if you can see them, but they're abundant in the second photo.

    The piece appears to be signed "i H I"; I have no idea who that might be, nor do I have an idea of who this figure is supposed to represent, if anyone. Is it a mythical figure? A farmer? No idea.

    There are cracks in each side of the skull, although they don't connect on top, and a crack in one of the legs. The figurine is 7" tall and the base is 3" across.The feet and legs are separate pieces, as is the basket. He's holding a butterfly on a twig. I assume the staff (bo?) is supposed to be there. There is a hole between his shoulder blades, to which a backpack (Oi?) was no doubt once attached. I hope that doesn't hurt the value too much.

    Overall, I love the level of craftsmanship and will never sell this family heirloom. If it's ivory, it would be nice to know a ballpark insurance value, if any of you folks have an idea.

    P1010309.JPG P1010310.JPG P1010311.JPG P1010312.JPG P1010313.JPG
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  2. i need help

    i need help Well-Known Member

  3. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    It definitely rewards a close look.

    Thanks INH!
    judy, scoutshouse, Bronwen and 2 others like this.
  4. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BOARED!

    I LOVE it.....I think it's simplicity is well done and beautiful!!!!!!! He looks like he could have significant age to him!!
  5. Bakersgma

    Bakersgma Well-Known Member

    I believe the correct Japanese term for this is "okimono."
    kyratango, judy, Ghopper1924 and 5 others like this.
  6. KikoBlueEyes

    KikoBlueEyes Well-Known Member

    Wow. What a lovely object.
    kyratango, judy, Ghopper1924 and 3 others like this.
  7. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    I have an old catalog (1980) that shows dozens of similar figurines. Many are dated circa 1900, but just as many show no date. The descriptions are vague as to subject - farmer, fisherman, priest, peasant... like that: a description of what activity was depicted. The prices were not very high for that time, the majority in the $300 to $700 range. Size was generally about the same as yours, though many of these carvings were more complex. It doesn't seem to be used in this catalog, but I think the principal descriptive phrase you should be using to search is "ivory okimono" (as per Bakersgma).

    Keeping in mind that this catalog is nearly 40 years old.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  8. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    looks like the legs were repaired at some point.........
  9. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Looks to me as though the head may also be a separate piece?
    Aquitaine, judy, Ghopper1924 and 4 others like this.
  10. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    as is the basket and maybe the feet...
  11. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    That's why I included the word 'also', to add the head to the list. :)
  12. scoutshouse

    scoutshouse Well-Known Member

  13. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Yes indeed, the head is a separate piece as well.

    Thanks for all of your marvelous feedback!
  14. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Well, thanks to my new keywords "ivory okimono" I've found quite a few similar figures. Many do seem to date to around 1900, with the values on sold examples higher than I expected.

    It's all good!

    I've got a female figure to go with the guy I depicted up above. I'll have to take some photos of her when time permits.
  15. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    as long as she's of age....;);)....:wideyed:
  16. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

  17. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

  18. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    The marks on the bottom could be numbers. Looks pretty much like "51" in japanese. If so that could be the model number of that figure's design, similar to model number marks on dishware.

    Where do you see ivory being sold? I thought it had become almost impossible to sell without strong documentation?
  19. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Appraisals given by jewellers 'for insurance purposes' seem to be wildly inflated, so start with prices realized for similar items sold in recent years & go from there. For example, look at this lot & following ones:

  20. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I'm aware of the danger of "feel good" appraisals. However, Bronwen, the sold prices in your link make me feel pretty durn good. Which also answers Jeff's question.
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