Japanese bronze samurai sculpture sure to cause a stir at Glasgow auction

(‘Focusing one’s energy to a single point’)


Sculpture in Japan began, as in most cultures, with clay. Over the centuries, sculpture in Japan was mostly figurative and was used to adorn buildings, especially entrances which often had a figurative piece on either side of the doorway. Much sculpture was related to religion, Shinto and Buddhism brought their own iconography and important figures. As early as the 8th century, bronze and gilt bronze sculpture was being made in 'factories' by craftsmen and artisans. During the Edo period of the 17th and 18th centuries the art of bronze sculpture reached a peak with Buddhist and secular artworks alike.

The samurai were a unique section of Japanese society and these warriors became romanticised and sometimes mythologised. Their dedication to a life of discipline and loyalty made them a much loved subject matter for artists of all types.

The Asian Works of Art Auction boasts lot 181, a striking representation in bronze and gilt bronze of a samurai in action. The figure is shown down on one knee and with his bow and arrow in full extension. The figure is signed to the reverse and is estimated at £500-1000. He brings to mind the samurai expression ‘Shuchu Ryoku’, which translates most closely to the focusing of one's energy on one point.


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