This is a classic example of Mingei Japanese folk art. The word mingei, combines the Japanese words for all people (min) and art (gei). It is a tall okimono carving done using the Itta-bori style of carving. This fanciful depiction of Kannon, the Japanese Goddess of Mercy, is true country folk art. For example, note the size of the hands - almost as large as the head. Many of the other proportions of the body are not to scale - but still retain a certain charm. Even the expression on the face of Kannon has a serene, almost slightly amused, but benevolent, look.
This roughly carved wooden okimono measures 12 1/2" tall by 4 1/2" wide by 3 1/4" deep and is in excellent condition. The dark black paint or lamp black pigment that covers the entire piece has been slightly rubbed off along a three inch segment of the garment on the right side of the the piece. No chips or cracks, There is an incised mark on the bottom of the piece. It is a single Kanji mark that translates as the letter, "Ji " which is first letter of Artist. For example, if the artist name was "Ji-ro". It is Ji from Ji-ro. We date the piece to the late Showa period, circa 1960s-1970s.
Itto-bori carving is literally ‘One Chisel Carving’. It is carved using a technique called "itto-bori" (one knife carving) or "to no kiri" (sword cut carving). Such carvings are cut in sharp, angular planes and are characterized by rough and simple lines and painted in strong, pure matte colors.