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Japanese Ivory Statue

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    Posted 11 years ago

    doebu
    (1 item)

    I need help identifying this beautiful ivory statue. I know nothing about it.
    I acquired it at an estate sale in Sun City, Az.
    This ivory statue is 6" tall, overall height with base is 7 1/4".
    Any information will be greatly appreciated.

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    Comments

    1. lisaatlarge, 11 years ago
      Hello,
      I think this is an excellent ivory figurine of Guanyin, a Chinese Goddess of purity and innocence.
      She is often represented holding a lotus flower branch, it's possible the top of your branch broken, missing the bloom.
      The lotus and Guanyin (can be spelled differently) are important symbols in the Chinese culture, and are often used as motifs in their decorative exportware.
      The ivory is probably not elephant ivory, the texture is not quite right. The age is probably early 20th century. Nice find.
    2. wma, 2 years ago
      This is not Guanyin, and that's not a broken lotus. That's Magu who holds in her hand a branch of the peach of immortality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magu_(deity)

      I agree with the dating.
    3. wma, 2 years ago
      Chinese.
    4. truthordare truthordare, 2 years ago
      Seems she is wearing a simple Japanese kimono and obi, I would humbly suggest she is the same deity, as the Buddhist culture is also practiced and important in Japan. Thanks for posting.
    5. wma, 2 years ago
      That's not a kimono and obi. . . any resemblance is due to the fact that the origin of kimono and obi was China. Magu is also not Japanese. I am not trying to be a cultural police here, but are other cases where there is room for cultural ambiguity between Chinese and Japanese, this is not that case.
    6. truthordare truthordare, 2 years ago
      wma,
      I was curious about Magu and looked her up on Wiki, there was a beautiful colorful rendition of her, with a completely different attitude and multi layered robes with ribbons.
      The originator of this piece may or may not have known much about his figurine except the peach branch, the female looks a lot more like the humble Guyanin, with simple robe and hairdo, a figure that was revered in both China and Japan.
      I discovered over the years that there was a huge gap in China during the first couple of decades of Mao's reign, where many artistic things, and antiques were rejected because they reflected the values of the bourgeois Western cultures. It was dangerous to even show any interest in these things.
      In the meantime, many Westerners who valued China's rich history, became more informed that the average Chinese generation born under Mao's after 1949.
      It is a lot more complicated than I am saying here. My point is, who did the carver have in mind when he made this figurine. I am no expert, just sharing what I learned as a buyer and a dealer for many years.
    7. wma, 2 years ago
      truthordare,

      Here is a reference sale by the way: https://auction.artron.net/paimai-art83480223/

      I agree that many of the female forms in ivory or ceramics are similar. In a factory setting with modular components, artisans simply need to switch up the attributions: a branch of peach, a vase, a lotus, a ruyi, or a Jesus, for whatever costumers. That's also why so many Christians thought the Child-giving Guanyin was the Virgin and Child. After all, the identity of different deities and people in East Asia resides in their costumes and accessories, especially before the 20th c.
    8. truthordare truthordare, 2 years ago
      Thank you for the link wma, I will save it for my reference sites.

      Glad you are willing to discuss this with me. I dont know you but you have much to share and your understanding is appreciated. There was great interest in Chinese and Japanese pieces of all kinds when the internet became popular, especially when the Chinese population were finally allowed to buy internationally.

      Many dealers and all kinds of internet resellers would buy and sell anything they felt might be profitable, and often did not know themselves what they were selling.

      I was especially sensitive to the differences of the 2 countries, some people were selling Japanese goods as Chinese, and that upset me because I knew, the buyer did not want a Japanese item instead. These are important issues for the two cultures.
    9. wma, 2 years ago
      Hi truthordare,

      I stumbled on this site because I got pretty bored by the lockdown, as I am sure many people. But I genuinely do want people to know what they have and gain a better appreciation of it, even if they are tourist bric-a-brac made yesterday. I could care less about their monetary value; all I care about is whether they present an interesting problem or question.

      So for me, as a scholar, determining whether it's Chinese, Japanese, or others is unimportant but rather WHY they have such ambiguous appearance.

      To be honest, if a Chinese buyer is so ignorant about their own histories and artifacts that they would buy a Japanese object thinking it's Chinese, I say let them. This tells me that they have no interest in pursuing the history or context of the object and solely focusing on commercial gains. Just as I commented on someone else's fake Qingming shanghe tu where some Chinese man wants to buy it for 1000 dollars. If that person is so untrained and uneducated about Chinese art that he's willing to blindly risk it, take the money and run.

      Full disclaimer, I was born in China and grew up in the US.
    10. truthordare truthordare, 2 years ago
      wma,
      That is why if could tell you have a different background and intentions than mine. The difference with me is that fact that the Chinese population was not free to study and learn about their culture, it's only in the last 20 years there has been a slow change.
      In many ways, not only commercially but culturally as well, and some temples have been renovated for people who can now celebrate the old important days of the past.
      I am interested and value knowledge and understanding. For myself and others.

      When you deal with a commercial venue of a specific category it's good to learn as much as you can about them, even if it is impossible to absorb all there is to know. I am aware of the conflicted views between China and Japan and why. Part of why I believe, people should know the difference, and if not as you say find out first. Not afterwards. Thanks for your comments.

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