Posted 4 years ago
I bought this figure of a monkey many years ago. It's identity was long a mystery to me. I finally worked on the Japanese character and finally found out that it is 'Masafumi'.
The orange lustre caught my attention when I saw it at the Salvo's.
In those days I was collecting Royal Lancastrian lustre wares.
But the mark below was Japanese.
It reminds me of the work of the Dutch ceramicist Jozef Mendes da Costa.
I believe it now is by Fujihira Masafumi.
Masaru = The demon queller
Monkey lore in Japan (and fox lore too) is closely related to Chinese geomancy (Ch: feng shui), a system for determining auspicious or inauspicious placements and orientations of cities, temples, houses, and graves. In Chinese thought, the northeast quarter is considered to be particularly inauspicious. The northeast direction is known as the "demon gate," which can be loosely translated as the place where "demons gather and enter." This belief was imported by the Japanese and is referred to as Kimon (literally "Demon Gate"). Kimon generally means ominous direction, or taboo direction. In Japan, both the monkey and the fox are guardians against evil Kimon influences.
In Japan, the monkey's role in guarding against demons originates from the Japanese word for monkey (saru), which is a homonym for the Japanese word "expel" (also pronounced saru). The latter word means to "dispel, punch out, push away, beat away." According to the legends of Japan's Mt. Hiei shrine-temple multiplex, this makes the monkey an "expeller of demons" -- in other traditions, the monkey is also thought to ward off thieves. In addition, Mt. Hiei proved to be a very fortunate choice for Saicho (766-822 AD), the founder of Tendai Buddhism in Japan, for the Tendai sect's main temple (Enryakuji) on Mt. Hiei is located to the northeast of the old imperial capital (Kyoto). According to Chinese geomantic views then popular at the Japanese court (early Heian Era), Kyoto was thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil influences from the northeast. The success of Saicho and Tendai Buddhism in Japan is thus related, in part, to the geomantic significance of Mt. Hiei's location northeast of Kyoto. The success of monkey lore in Japan is likewise partly due to this association. At the Hie Shrine on Mt. Hiei, the protective monkey is named MASARU.
Any input on this piece would be helpful to me.