An articulated iron model of spiny lobster.
Naturalistically modelled, formed from individually cast, hammered and carved sections crafted to resemble the crustacean’s shell with well chiseled details, assembled with fully articulated joints to allow lifelike mobility.
Myochin (明珍) mark on the belly.
In the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), Japanese society became more peaceful and the demand for armor decreased. Some armorers then began to produce various iron objects, such as jizai okimono which are articulated. This is the case of the Myôchin school, an armory that became very famous for this type of object. It is said that its founder was Kinomune Sosuke (紀宗介), who lived in the Heian period (794-1185) in Kyoto. But only objects from the Muromachi period (1333-1573) are attested. The school developed elsewhere in Japan, such as in Edo (now Tokyo), Himeji, Hiroshima, Kochi, Kanazawa, Fukui, Seidai and Hirosaki.
The realism of ironwork and more broadly of metalwork increased in the second half of the Edo period. However the development of jizai okimono predates this period. From the Meiji era to the Shôwa era (1868-1912), the family groups of Takase Kôzan (高瀬好山) and Tomiki (冨木) of Kyoto took the lead in the production of jizai okimono. Highly appreciated abroad, they are becoming more and more intended for export. They were mentioned as early as 1888 in the French magazine Le Japon artistique by Siegfried Bing.
Similar jizai okimono at the British Museum : Myôchin Muneaki (明珍宗明), Articulated figure (jizai okimono of a crayfish (ise-ebi) (sic.), 18th century, iron. Inv. 1937,1218.1
And National Museum in Tokyo: Myôchin Munekiyo (明珍宗清), Jizai okimono (articulated figure) of a lobster, Edo period, 18th-19th century, iron. Inv. E-20286
Unassociated wooden storage box. The former object was given in 1935 as a commemorative gift on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the first national census in 1920. It was customary to give commemorative gifts on anniversary dates, especially to those appointed as census takers.
Wooden storage box. One character could not be identified. Top right, the date of the gift: 昭和十年, Shôwa jû nen, year 10 of the Shôwa era -1935-
Top middle, the occasion: 国勢調査記念, Kokusei chôsa kinen, National census commemoration
Below, the place where the recipient lives: 日？村, ? mura, village?
Japan, Meiji era (1868-1912)
20.5 cm (8 in) long with retracted antennae.