Decorative Carving of a Longtailed Cockrel (Onagadori) and Hen
From the beginning of the Meiji period, when the Japanese began to adopt western-style modes of dress, the traditional makers of fashion accessories had to adapt to these changes or go out of business. Ivory carvers had long made miniature works, such as netsuke — the decorative toggle used to secure the lacquer inro to the sash — but as these objects were no longer being used, carvers used their skills to produce purely decorative objects instead.
Okimono (things to be placed) were objects especially chosen to be displayed in the tokonoma (the alcove found in traditional Japanese houses). With the rapid growth in the export of ‘exotic’ traditional Japanese arts to the west and with the encouragement of the Meiji government, larger-scale ivory okimono were produced to meet this demand. High-quality naturalistic carvings such as this group were made by carvers from the newly formed Tokyo Sculptors Association (1887). Such intricately carved objects were displayed at international exhibitions and were of such high quality that they commanded huge prices and were eagerly acquired by collectors of the period.
Unfortunately, we know nothing of the history of the maker of this object.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
Decorative Art Okimono
Carved ivory and natural hardwood base
Height: 98.3 cm (with stand)