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Bronze Okimono of Gama Sennin Atop Rockery Base Holding A Live-Dragon Staff
Early Meiji Period, 19th Century
A "Sennin," or "The Immortal One," as the word is most closely translated from it's 10th Century Chinese Origin, has been a common symbol for Immortality in the Religious Legends and Tales of Morality throughout China and Japan, and the most revered of these Immortals is "Gama Sennin," aka Liu Hai, as Gama was called before learning the secret to Immortality. The fame of Gama Sennin begins with the 10th Century Alchemical/Hermetic 'Tale of Liu Hai & Chan Chu' (Chan Chu = "The Three-Legged Money Toad"- Most commonly known today as a Feng Shui symbol for prosperity). In the tale, Liu Hai goes on a quest to find Chan Chu intending to learn the secret to Immortality from the Wise Toad, the quest obviously being a success. The Tale soon spread to Japan, where Gama Sennin fully developed into a Unique Figure that lasts to this day, thus giving a new immortality to Gama, particularly by way of his figure being a major subject in the high-end Netsuke and Okimono of the 17th to 19th Centuries, and more recently as an Immortal Character of Japanese Cartoons and Video Games, yet thankfully the Sage has managed to retain his true meaning and the Legend of Liu Hai and Chan Chu is now as well-known as ever, over 1000 years since it's birth.
In this absolutely breath-taking okimono, Gama Sennin is depicted standing atop a Rockery Base, the base made in the same Bronze used for the entirety of the piece. The rockery is attached to the figure in two places, by way of metal ties which pierce through extensions which protrude seamlessly from the bottoms of each of the Figure's feet, the extensions piercing though the hollow surface beneath him which are then secured in place with the original solid metal ties bent below the surface, which will no doubt hold him securely in place for many more years to come (see photo). The right leg is raised forming a 90° angle at the knee, this being a traditional stance and tell tale sign of depictions of Gama Sennin. His Left hand holds a Gourd, which is the magical housing of a Dragon that the Sennin slowly releases to form his Living Dragon Staff- long and slender as it rises out of the gourd- the end of the Dragon's tail still inside the Gourd forming one long object; the Sennin grips the Dragon's Neck just below the head with his right hand and holds the Gourd in the other, producing a seemingly alive and writhing Dragon-Staff, which extends about 9 inches from end to end. In the title of this description mention is made that the Figure here is very likely that of Gama, thus leaving the possibility that it is a different or generic Sennin, which is due to the Dragon Staff which requires both of the Sennin's hands to hold; as most prominent Sennin have defining characteristics, one of those often found in the case of Gama Sennin is a Toad in one hand to represent Chan Chu; however this is not a rule without exception and by looking at several other attributes, such as the 90 degree bent knee, it is safe to say that this is almost certainly a depiction of Gama Sennin, specifically.
Weighing in at about 15 pounds this spectacular piece was certainly made to last, making certain that the fine detail covering the figure would not soon be lost and providing him with a presence as graceful as it is robust. Photos do no justice to the absolutely unparalleled realism found in the Sennin's hands, legs, and feet; it is truly remarkable to find such uncanny realism sculpted so gracefully into this unmoving, dense 15 pound chunk of solid bronze. A truly outstanding example of the Fine Art Sculpture found in 19th Century Japanese Bronze Okimono.
Dimensions: H-15" (38cm) x W-9 1/2" (24cm); Weight-15 lbs (6.5 kg)
Condition: Excellent Condition Overall. All Original with a warm, even patina throughout. The fine incised details of the Okimono are wholly visible on the entirety of the piece. The original metal ties, traditional of okimono and netsuke, continue to hold the feet of the figure firmly secured to the rockery base beneath it.
One minor repair mended a small fracture in the thinnest midsection of the Staff; well-repaired and not visible except under close scrutiny. Repair is not visible from any normal viewing distance!
Provenance: From A Notable Private Collection of Asian Arts in Los Angeles.
The Zep Tepi Emporium (Los Angeles) Holds A Valid California Dealer's License (CA License #000000179) Issued By The Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice.
Please Note: The Short Wooden Stand Shown Beneath The Okimono In 2 of the Images Herein Was NOT Original To The Piece and Will Not Be Included In This Sale. Similar Stands Can Be Purchased Upon Buyers Request.