Skeleton by Imai Oshin

Late Taisho - early Showa era, circa 1920-1930
Burl wood
Museum purchase, funds provided by the Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment

Dated c. 1920-1930, this two-part okimono (small sculpture) is fashioned out of natural and carved burl wood in the form of a skeleton bowing graciously. Imai Oshin described this skeleton okimono as his most accomplished sculptural masterpiece. Oshin worked in Kyoto and was one of the finest artists creating burl wood okimono, trays and items for tea ceremonies. His work generally reveals a subject hidden in a natural form, such as a piece of burl wood, and he achieves a perfect harmony between the natural and the artificial, carved aspects. Although diminutive in size, the sculptural quality of the work is monumental.