Okimono c1890 SUKEYUKI, Japan Carved wood Okimono of a human skull with snake
Unusually large fine carved wood okimono of a human skull entwined with a snake Japanese circa 1890
Signed Dai Nihon Sukeyuki zo
Meiji period, circa 1890
Excellent with a deep colour and patina.
Okimono are purely ornamental, finely sculptured objects for display and admiration of skill alone. From the 18th Century onwards, bronze okimono were made for the tokonoma (dislay alcove) in the form of insects, reptiles, animals and legendary characters. It was not until the late 19th Century that a huge and sudden foreign demand for these ornamental objects saw an increase in the styles and mediums used for okimono, the best often using a mixture of wood, ivory, metal and fine inlay. Those pieces produced during the golden age of okimono (1880-1920) often reflect two cultures, the West in style and influence and the East in technical skill.
The Japanese are particularly fascinated by the supernatural. Ghost stories featuring skeletons and skulls as specters abound, with the skull being a popular symbol of the transience of life in Japan just as it was in Europe.