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Item Wooden, Hand Carved & Painted Shishi-gashira
(lit. Lion Head)

This is a wonderful example of Ittobori style carved Shi Shi (lion dog) articulated head. Shi Shi are known to “repel evil spirits”. The jaw is attached by a wooden dowel, which allows the mouth to open and close. Tapping your finger rapidly on the chin makes a wood clapping sound to bring attention to its presence.

This Shishi-gashira was used and manipulated with the hand (like a large hand puppet ), not worn over the head as often seen.
Age
Early 1900s
Size
7.1 X 7.1 X 7.8 inches
18 X 18 X 20 cm
See iPhone 4 size comparison in last photo
3.0 lbs, 1380 g
Condition
Good overall condition
The front rear has a broken, missing piece. Doesn't diminish overall great look of this folk art.
Comment Japan has a long tradition of the lion dance and the dance is known as shishi-ma in Japanese. It is thought to have been imported from China during the Tang Dynasty, and became associated with celebration of Buddha's birthday. The oldest surviving lion mask, made of paulownia wood with an articulated lower jaw, is preserved in Japan. The dance is commonly performed during the New Year where the lion dancers may be accompanied by flute and drum musicians.

The lion dance has been completely absorbed into Japanese tradition, and the style of dancing and design of the lion differs by region. There are many different lion dances in Japan - it is believed that as many as 9,000 variations of the dance exist in the country. The lion dance is also used in religious Shinto festivals as part of a performing art form called kagura. There are two main groups of shishi kagura - the daikagura which is mainly acrobatic, and the yamabushi kagura. (continued below)


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