Authentic, signed fine-art from Japan by artisan "Yamanaka Zodo". Judging based on the cords attached the item is likely from the 1970s. Yamanaka is a third generation, traditionally taught, wood craftsman! Zodo was born in the 1950s and keeps his family tradition going to this day.Carved done in an extremely rare Yakusugi Cedar from Yakushima Island which has been declared a UNESCO heritage site since 1993. Japan also banned the cutting of these trees since the 1970s. It is still harvested in extremely limited quantities from trees that have naturally fallen. In the strictest sense, the term Yakusugi is reserved for trees aged 1,000 years or more, and younger trees are referred to as kosugi ("small cedars"). In general, the Japanese cedars live for about 500 years, but Yakusugi trees live much longer.
They grow on less nutritious g ranite soil slowly and have a very tight grain. The wood contains a lot of resin due them rot resistant. To give you a better sense what it means to be a 1,000+ year old tree. When this Yakusugi Cedar sprouted. The telescope had not been invented.The famed Japanese Samurai had not yet appeared in history. And within +/- 100 years, of the world still debating if the world was flat or round.. Although ergonomically correct, this item was always intended to be displayed as art and not worn. The inner recesses and ergonomics attest to the carvers's attention to detail. The symmetry of this mask is stunning.
Its a rare quality item which is unfortunately becoming more difficult to fine as the art of mask making in Japan is rapidly a dying tradition. The character depicted is Okame... Often depicted with a cat.Okame; also known as Uzume or Otafuku is the name for the female counterpart of a traditional Japanese Kyogen theater pair. She is considered to be the goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art. Her full cheeks and merry eyes are an unforgettable sight and a delight to behold. Some Japanese scholars theorize that long ago, when the first Okame masks were created, they may have represented an idealized form of feminine beauty.
Styles and tastes are subject to change, and the ancient Japanese might be surprised to learn that the name Okame is today sometimes used as a less-than-appreciated joking taunt by Japanese husbands. In contrast, a famous and contemporary Japanese Kyogen actor once commented that the countenance of Okame is what every man hopes his bride will look like on his wedding night. All Okame masks dramatize the plumpness of the happy-satisfied woman's cheeks.
However, this one elevates that art form even more, and has extremely pronounced cheeks etc. A rare quality piece of master craftsmanship lucky enough to have made it out of Japan.This one was a heirloom piece that a Japanese grandmother passed to her american-born grandson who in turn chose to sell the cherished family piece to me. In traditional Japanese fashion, the mask does a great job at showcasing the natural grains of the wood selected. 8" long, 6-1/2" wide, 3 deep. See more of my mask collection for sale, including my favorite masks... Japanese Masks - Check out my other items! The item "Japanese Fine-Art, OTAFUKU Mask, Yakusugi Wood, Signed Yamanaka UNESCO" is in sale since Sunday, May 5, 2019. This item is in the category "Antiques\Asian Antiques\Japan\Masks". The seller is "cosmic_goods" and is located in Freeport, Maine. This item can be shipped worldwide.