The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures

Robert Mangold has been working with Japanese antiques since 1995 with an emphasis on ceramics, Paintings, Armour and Buddhist furniture.
In accordance with the requests of local authorities our Kyoto gallery will be closed to visitors from April 14th until further notice.

Large Bronze Figure of O-kuninushi by Oshima Joun


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Metalwork: Pre 1920: Item # 1453884

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The Kura
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817-2 Kannonji Monzen-cho
Kamigyo-ku Kyoto 602-8385
tel.81-75-201-3497
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A silver rabbit and large solid bronze figure of the young god O-kuninushi no Mikado by Oshima Joun on a black lacquered stand enclosed in the original signed and red lacquered wooden box with separate compartments for the table and figure. Here we see O-kuninushi seated beside his bundle of belongings, hand extended in benevolence to the meek creature. The box is titled O-kuninushi Go-Zo, Go Okimono, Tobu Oshimia Joun Sakku followed by a ka-o signature. Inside is written the characters SoNeKo(Shi)ShakuDen(Tono). The inscription infers some Imperial event at which this was given (The character Shaku is the same as the UjinoShaku Imperial visit held after New years when commoners who have excelled in the previous year are granted an audience with the Emperor). There are two patches of fresh lacquer inside the lid, indicating a name and possible date of the recipient have been erased. The bronze figure is 8-1/2 inches (22 cm) tall and weighs 4.5 kg (9-1/2 lbs). The rabbit is solid silver, 28 grams. Both are in fine condition.
I believe the story tells of a young god Onamuji (who would become O-kuninushi) and eight of his fellows who left Izumo seeking the hand of princess Yakami of Inaba. He being the youngest and kindest of the group, was left to carry the baggage. As the men reached the coast, they found a rabbit stripped of fur and bleeding. So as a prank they told him to wash in the sea and dry himself in the sun. Of course this caused the rabbit much pain, until Onamuji arrived (delayed with the heavy bags), and told the hare to wash himself in the clean rivers of the stream and roll in the billowing seeds of the cat-tails. The rabbit quickly recovered, and made a prediction to the lad that indeed Yakami would fall in love with him above all others despite his appearing as a servant.
Oddly the story does not end there, and one must pity the princess, for the other men kill Onamuji (several times and he is several times revived) and he is forced to flee to the underworld, where he falls in love with King Susano’s daughter and elopes with her. The grand Shrine at Izumo, one of the oldest and most important in Japan, is dedicated to Okuninushi, and he is believed to be the builder of nations.