A Large Rustic Hand Carved Wood Daikoku: Tohoku Craft
early twentieth century
7" x 4" (diameter), 16.5 cm x 10 cm (diameter)
This marvelous, planar and beautifully hand carved wooden figure is that of Daikoku, one of the Shichifukujin, the Seven Household Gods or the seven Gods of Good Fortune. Daikoku is a popular presence in Japan as he is the god of wealth, farmers, food, and good fortune.
Larger than most of its kind, this rustic depiction of this popular presence in Japanese homes is hewn from one piece of wood.
It is a highly abstracted version of this playful god, and the farmers of Tohoku, Japan's rural North East area, are well known for this kind of reductivist carving style. As the farmers were adept at wood carving, farmers were encouraged by their feudal lord to supplement their meager incomes during snowy winters by making use of their time in creating these hand carved figures which would be offered for sale.
This Daikoku probably functioned as an okimono, or a "put thing" which is alcove ornament or a display piece to be shown in the home, in this case, one that would invite prosperity.
Because of the surface wear and the patina ingrained into the wood, it is plain to see that this rustic beauty once graced someone's home, and hopefully it performed its job of bestowing wealth and happiness onto the family lucky enough to have brought him into their home.
A gorgeous piece, larger than most of its kind.