Exquisitely hand carved antique wooden puppet head (Shishi Gashira) of a ferocious lion with painted and gilt eyes, black horse hair mane, and articulated ears and jaw. The construction is sound and the articulated parts function well.
This exceptional puppet is designed to take on different personalities depending on the attitude and angle of viewing. As the puppet is manipulated, the shadows and light cause the puppet to appear whimsical,playful,serious,and absolutely FEROCIOUS! In the hands of an experienced puppeteer, the effects must have been incredibly expressive. The play in which the Shishi Gashira is used is called Shishimai, which is also the name of the dance therein.
Traditionally, people used the Shishimai when praying for a successful harvest, to purify their spirits, and to drive out evil spirits. This puppet head is signed by its maker. Other than a small check in the grain at the upper lip and a stain on the nose (see images), the structural integrity of the carving is solid. It appears this puppet was made in the Taisho period (1912-1926), possibly carved on the island of Shikoku.
This is an absolutely gorgeous piece that would display beautifully in any room! The museum quality acrylic display stand is also included.
This is one of several masks to be offered from a collection who’s owner lived in Japan during the post World War II period.
Size: 6 1/2" (16.51 cm)W x 8" (20.32 cm) H x 7 3/4" (19.69 cm)D.