The Art and Orchid GalleryThe Art and Orchid Gallery
Carved Japanese Ivory 'In' (or Seal) of Karo Shi-shi

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Ivory: Pre 1920: item # 1172076

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The Art and Orchid Gallery
7896 SE Peach Way
Jupiter, Florida

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Carved Japanese Ivory 'In' (or Seal) of Karo Shi-shi
The Art and Orchid Gallery's Japanese ivory seal, called an 'in', probably from the Meiji Period, depicts a Karo Shi-shi, or Chinese lion, standing on a platform, the bottom of which is a seal.[120A, 120B] It seems likely that the well known Japanese sagemono, the inro, was first used in the 7th Century as a seal case, as its name implies, and only later developed into a portable medicine case.[120A] Japanese seals are usually made of ivory or hard wood and bear the name of the person in raised or incised characters. The 'in' was inked with cinnabar or lamp black mixed with oil. In the earliest times the 'in' was used only by nobility and military class. However, by the 16th Century it was commonly used by all classes of Japanese. By the 17th Century, an edict permitted only lower classes to use these 'in' while upper (educated) classes used their hand written signature (symbols), called their 'kakihan'.[120A] Today the 'in' can be used by anyone and is required for official documents. This 'in's' handle, the kara shi-shi, has long been used as a shinto shrine animal-guardian or messenger for deities.[120B] Our antique 'in' passed the hot needle test, acetone solubility, crosshatching and hardness tests for ivory.[11C] It seems to be in excellent condition except for age cracks on the platform. References available upon request. Size: ~1 1/2" H x 2 3/8 " x 1 1/4"; weight: ~ 57 grams

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