Antiques + 20th Century Design

  • Japanese Statue - BU1203

    Japanese Statue - BU1203

    Price on Application

    Japanese statue of Datsue-ba also known as Shozuka no Baba,  Kamakura / Muromachi period, C14th

    An important figure in the Buddhist afterlife encountered by the sinful, her role is to strip sinners of their clothes so that they can be weighed to determine the gravity of the sins that they committed in life before sending them to an appropriate judge of the Underworld  who will sentence the sinner to a punishment fitting their deeds.

    The figure was carved from multiple blocks of wood, probably close grained Hinoke cypress, using the technique of 'yosegi zukuri' to join the pieces of wood together to to hollow out the inside of the sculpture, both to improve the overall stability of the carving and to reduce weight. The joints between the pieces were then covered with a layer of hemp cloth secured in place with a mixture of urushi lacquer and a powdered clay like filler.

    At this early stage the eyes, carved from rock crystal and painted from behind with black lacquer and gold leaf would have been fitted into the head of the figure.

    Over the raw-wood form, the surface was covered and refined with multiple layers of gofun, a gesso like pigment created from aged and ground oyster shells, over which polychrome colours and gilding were applied.

    Some of the polychrome colours depicting the clothing are still visible, allowing us to surmise that the figure was originally cloaked in predominately reddish toned robes with edgings highlighted in blue and gold.

    "One may argue that Datsue-ba is not only a demon who strips sinners of their garments (or skins). She is also a goddess, one who bestows humans with their skin coverings at the time of their birth. She can thus be seen as a goddess of life and a demon of death, one who both gives and takes away the skin that covers the human body" (Kawamura Kunimitsu - quote from the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies).

    Dimensions: H 52cm x W 52cm x D 37cm

    Materials: hinoki cypress, rock crystal, hemp, lacquer, gofun and vermillion, malachite and azurite mineral pigments with gilding


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