Rare pair of shrine guardians in the shape of foxes, both sitting on a two tiered elevation. The right one holds a moving jewel in its mouth, the left one a stick. Middle brown, dense wood with a beautiful patina where hands touched the backs and heads of the foxes and the bases. Red staining on inside of ears, inside the mouths, in nostrils. Crystal eyes. Bases made of the same wood. Bases inscribed: Hono, Osaka, shinshachu (in faith of mankind); Hokkinin (sponsors), Osaka, Minami Horie, jogo: one base with the name Umezaki Jisaburo, the other with the name Shimezaka Jihei. The bottoms of the bases signed in black ink: Sowajima … minami … Shitakawa Yasujiro chokoku (carved by Shitakawa Yasujiro). Japan, Meiji period.
Height with base: ca. 27 in. (ca. 70 cm), height base: ca. 9 ¾ in. (ca. 25 cm).
Fox with jewel: short crack at right hindpaw, cracks in the body that show less or worse, depending on temperature/humidity, few abrasion and chips at feet. Fox with stick: cracks in the body that show less or worse, depending on temperature/humidity, few abrasion and chips at feet, stick of later date. All in all very good condition.
Minami Horie is a district in Osaka, west of the quarter of Minami, where the bunraku, kabuki and no theaters are. The pieces must have been standing in front of a Shinto shrine that no longer exists today.