Bronze sculpture with a nice patina of a seated tanuki, its paws are circling its prominent stomach. It looks mischievious with its half-open mouth and narrowed eyes.
The tanuki is a subspecies of the asian raccoon dog, it has been significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary.
The tanuki has a long history in Japanese legend and folklore. Bake-danuki are a kind of tanuki yôkai (supernatural beings) found in the classics and in the folklore and legends of various places in Japan.
Compared with kitsune, which are the epitome of shape-changing animals, The tanuki is thus superior to the fox in its disguises, but unlike the fox, which changes its form for the sake of tempting people, tanuki do so to fool people and make them seem stupid. Also, a theory is told that they simply like to change their form.
The comical image of the tanuki having a large scrotum is thought to have developed during the Kamakura era, where goldsmiths would use tanuki pelts for the process of hammering gold nuggets into leaf. Due to the actual wild tanuki having disproportionately large testicles, a feature that has inspired humorous exaggeration in artistic depictions, and how gold nuggets share a homophone with testicles in the Japanese language, such associations would come to memetically link them together into its folklore image tradition of being a creature of wealth and whimsy. Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travelers’ packs, or using them as drums. As tanuki are also typically depicted as having large bellies, they may be depicted as drumming on their bellies instead of their testicles — particularly in contemporary art
Japan, Meiji period (1868-1912)
Height : 6,3 in-Width : 5,5 in