Bronze bat with brown patina. One of its wings spread, the other one folded. Silver niello highlighting some hairs and veins of the wings. Hole in its throat and mouth to allow hanging.
Until the 20th century, the bat was very popular in Japanese culture, symbolizing good luck. Several explanations are given as to the origin of its name koumori: derived from kawamori, “protector of the river”; derived from kawahari, meaning the skin stretched between bones; or kawahori, “eating mosquitoes”.
Signed Ryûbundô Yasunosuke VI (1840-1921) on his belly: 龍文堂安之助造, Ryûbundô Yasunosuke zô, “made by Ryûbundô”. His original name is Mizoguchi Kihei (溝口喜兵衛). Ryûbundô is the name of a metal workshop in Kyoto founded by Ryubun (1732-1798) and then taken over by his son Shikata Yasunosuke (1786-1841). Eight generations of craftsmen succeeded. The workshop is best known for its high quality tea keetles (tetsubin).
Ryûbundô Yasunosuke VI exhibited frequently both inside and outside Japan: at first in 1890 at the Kyoto Art Exposition (Kyôto Bijutsu Hakurankai) and then in Chicago (1893), Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904). His work is mentioned in the novel I am a cat (Wagahai wa neko de aru, 吾輩は猫である) written in 1905 by the famous writer Natsume Sôseki: “He couldn’t get to sleep unless he could hear [the steam] from his big Ryûbundô [kettle] making a sound like the wind in pine trees.”
Carrying case included, with the same inscription on the lid on the left; on the right 銅掛斜生, dô kakenanaike, “hanging bronze”.
Japan, Meiji period (1868-1912)
Height: 1.6 in (4 cm) – Length: 5.1 in (13 cm) – Width: 3.9 in (10 cm)