Jizai in patinated bronze representing a scolopendre. The body of the animal is composed of articulated segments giving an impression of movement although the legs are fixed.
Jizai okimono are realistic sculptures of animals including birds, fish, snakes, lobsters, crabs, insects, but also imaginary animals such as dragons and shachi (aquatic monster similar to fish), made from iron, copper, shibuichi (alloy of copper and silver), shakudo (alloy of copper and gold) or bronze. Their body and limbs are articulated, and can be moved like a living animal. This kind of okimono (decorative object) are not well known in Japan because they were mainly exported since the Meiji period at the beginning of the Showa era (end of the 19th century-beginning of the 20th century).
Jizai okimono began to attract the interest of the Japanese public in October 1983 when several models were shown at a special exhibition on “Japanese Metal Art” held at the National Museum in Tokyo.
The term Jizai (which literally means “at will”) first appeared publicly at the special exhibition on “Japanese Metal Art” in connection with the titles of the works on display at the exhibition, i.e. Jizai okimono of the Dragon and Jizai okimono of the Falcon.
Jizai okimono started to be produced in the Edo period, but no information is available as to what they were called at that time.
A small piece of the leg is missing.
Unidentified stamp bellow.
Japan – Taishô era (1912-1926) or early Shôwa era (1926-1989)
Length : 6.3 in. (16 cm) – Width : 1.5 in. (3.8 cm)