Not currently on display at the V&A

Articulated Iron Snake

1750 to 1800 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Representational sculpture of animals and insects had been known in Japan from the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), when bronze figures had been made for display in the tokonoma, the alcove in a Japanese house where works of art were displayed. These items were produced by traditional armour makers, or by those who made the decorative fittings for swords.

The Myochin school of armour makers specialised in jizai - lifelike articulated figures of animals. Jizai are realistically shaped figures of animals made from iron, copper, shibuichi (copper and silver alloy) and shakudo (copper and gold alloy). Their bodies and limbs are articulated, and can be moved like real animals. Among these ornamental figures, models of birds, fishes, snakes, lobsters, crabs and insects, as well as imaginary beings such as dragons, are common.

http://www.tnm.jp/modules/r_free_page/index.php?id=573&lang=en


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Hammered iron, articulated and gilded
Brief Description
Ornamental figure of a snake, wrought iron, articulated and gilded, Japan, mid 18th century



Physical Description
Articulated iron snake J. jizai. Signed 'Myochin Munenobu' under the snake's chin.
Dimensions
  • Length: 165.1cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Munenobu (Myochin Munenobu; c.1750-1800. Signed under the snake's chin.)
Gallery Label
SNAKE Wrought iron Japan; mid 18th century M.38-1947 In the figure of a snake, signed 'Miochin Muneobu'.(07/1994)
Object history
Jahn Bequest
Summary
Representational sculpture of animals and insects had been known in Japan from the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868), when bronze figures had been made for display in the tokonoma, the alcove in a Japanese house where works of art were displayed. These items were produced by traditional armour makers, or by those who made the decorative fittings for swords.



The Myochin school of armour makers specialised in jizai - lifelike articulated figures of animals. Jizai are realistically shaped figures of animals made from iron, copper, shibuichi (copper and silver alloy) and shakudo (copper and gold alloy). Their bodies and limbs are articulated, and can be moved like real animals. Among these ornamental figures, models of birds, fishes, snakes, lobsters, crabs and insects, as well as imaginary beings such as dragons, are common.



http://www.tnm.jp/modules/r_free_page/index.php?id=573&lang=en
Bibliographic Reference
Hull-Grundy, A. Japanese Articulated Iron Animals. Oriental Art. 1958, IV, No.4. fig.3.
Collection
Accession Number
M.38-1947

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record createdJune 25, 2009
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