Japanese Bronze Mythical Figure, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:44)
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: This is a piece that I inherited from my sister. My grandmother bought it in the 1940s either in San Antonio or Houston. And my grandmother liked to buy things with a lot of ornamentation on them. And little details are what she really was drawn to and what appealed to her a lot in her collecting.
APPRAISER: Well, this is quite a fierce individual. So it looks like she was probably attracted by the craftsmanship of the piece.
GUEST: I would think so. When we were kids, we thought he was the devil. And it wasn't until we got older we realized that he had a headdress on. We thought he had horns.
APPRAISER: Yes, exactly. It's Japanese.
APPRAISER: It was done in about the 1880s. And it's a mythical figure that actually depicts one of the early emperors of Japan by folklore-- a third or fourth century emperor by the name of Emperor Ojin. And, this was probably a set of perhaps all of the early mythical emperors of Japan. So it may be one of 15 or 16 that were cast at the middle part of the Meiji period by this rather tour de force craftsman by the name of Seiun. And you see his signature over here on the bottom of his robe where you find a lot of signatures in Meiji metalwork artists. Really terrific wave work here, terrific floral details. Look at how elegantly fashioned his robes are here in the front and side, and the bat motif. Just exquisite details all throughout. To the rockwork, to the floral blossoms, everything is as it should be for the height of Meiji craftsmanship. He would have been carrying a war standard. And what happened is during the course of its life, it was turned into a lamp. Did your family do this?
GUEST: Well, the family lore is that it had a flame-shaped bulb at the end of it, at the top. And then after it was given to my mother, she decided that it would be more useful as a regular lamp, and so she had it converted here in town.
APPRAISER: It's really pretty spectacular. What do you think it's worth?
GUEST: I have no idea.
APPRAISER: At auction, I would say at least $8,000 to $12,000.
APPRAISER: Spectacular object.
GUEST: $8,000 to $12,000, that is really nice.
APPRAISER: If it had been intact and not converted into a lamp, it probably would be about $15,000 to $20,000 at auction.
GUEST: Thank you.
APPRAISER: Thank you.
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