This 19th century Japanese carved ivory okimono measures approximately 9 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches in diameter at it's widest point.
It is intricately carved with fully delineated scales and teeth on the fish. The figure riding a fish is carved from one solid walrus tusk and it sits on a separate oval section as a base. The crystalline pattern that is so indicative of walrus ivory can be seen in many places on the carving, including Kinko's robe (interior front left) and the belly of the carp or koi.
It dates from the Meiji Period in Japan (circa 1870-1900).
It is in very good condition with some stabilized antique ivory fractures as are seen on many of these okimonos that are well over 100 years old.
Japan originally imported and adapted many Taoist and Buddhist teachings from China, which were then combined with native Shinto beliefs.
One Taoist figure incorporated into Japanese artwork was Kinko, a holy hermit. He is often depicted mounted on the enormous carp that carried him to the Undersea Kingdom. There, sea creatures taught him that all life is sacred.
In Japan the carp (koi) is also a symbol of persistence, longevity, and fertility. Land-locked farmers have kept carp in their ponds to provide food for centuries and also bred them for their beautiful colors.
This original carved "oosik" or penis bone measures about 11 inches long by 1 inch wide by 1 1/2 inches in depth at it's wide at the base.
Although it has the appearance of ivory, it is actually carved from heavily fossilized walrus penile bone. It is much harder than traditional ivory and as such has been used by native people for generations to producing knives and important implements.
This is likely a fertility totem in as much as it has a hooded woman riding a phallus with the raven and a stylized bear above her.
A work of this quality would have taken a great deal of time talent and effort to create.
The workmanship and details of the carving are outstanding and can honestly be described as museum quality.
Price on Request
This MUSEUM QUALITY NORTH WEST COAST FIGURAL TOTEM was carved from one solid walrus tusk.
It dates circa 1890-1910.
It measures 25 inches long by about 2 1/4 inches diameter at the base.
It is carved overall with an amazing assortment of carved figures, including many native animals and other tribal figural icons.
It is in outstanding condition, with a wonderful ivory patina and age cracks. Virtually all of the 17+ carved figures have abalone eyes and are beautifully detailed and polished.
The photo enlargements do not begin to do it justice. This is truly a one of a kind item and guaranteed to be antique and authentic.