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Ken-Hawaii

What Is This Creature?

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Considering the zoo we have, I would have thought I could recognize any critter, but I don't know about this one. It's probably something significant in mythology.

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Dear Ken,  this looks like the "Squirrel and Grapes" Motif (but the leaves are off and I can't tell if those are really grapes or not...).  If it is that motif, then animal experts say that it is a Japanese Dormouse instead of a squirrel (the Dormouse looks like a small squirrel with a bushy tail, and it eats grapes while a squirrel does not).  While I do not have any proof, I think that this motif may have a hidden meaning.  For example, Grapes in Japanese is Budo, and while the kanji are different, Budo also means the Martial Arts ("Martial Way" or the Way of War).  Dormouse in Japanese is Yamane, and while the kanji are different, Yamane is also a style of martial arts.  I wonder if the Samurai who used this motif were Yamane practitioners?

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Looks like a fox with head up and turned so the ears are actually facing forward. Long tail would also suggest so. :)

 

Antti

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This is mine

 

 

School:
Mito in the province of
Hitachi (Sugiyama School?)
Signature:
Mito 水戸 Ju 住
Tomohisa 節 久 Saku 作
H09909
Period:
Ca 1800
Subject:
Legend of the fox (kitsune) and vine. Also examples show this as a squirrel

 

post-2100-0-40063800-1538827887_thumb.jpg

 

 

Grev

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Thanks Grev for your post.

I am quite surprised by the mei. Mine is mumei but I attributed it to ito school, not mito.

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The most likely candidates  are the Japanese squirrel and Doormouse as they enjoy eating grapes and berries,  Fox's are not generally  attracted to grapes as a food source.

 

-S-

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I believe Antti got it right.  The snout/muzzle is too long for a squirrel, the legs too long and narrowed (more like that of canines) and the tail too long (BTW Kitsune are said to have up to nine tails). The ears are also longer and more pointed and the posture looks to be more canine as well.  On the tsuba the fox is looking up toward the grapes, looking as if he's trying to reach them but cannot.  I wouldn't be surprised if this relates to the old Aesop fable of the fox and grapes from which 'sour grapes' is derived.  As smart and cunning as the fox is he cannot reach the grapes and becomes maddened but instead of simply accepting reality of his inability he decides the grapes are probably sour and not worth having.  It is totally possible the story came along with the early missionaries and entered Japanese folklore.  

 

If I was wearing this tsuba it would be inferring, "You might be cleaver as a fox but you will never reach me"!

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Squirrels love grapes, George - trust me on that! I'd heard of a dormouse, but had to Google it - doesn't really look like the tsuba creature. Got a laugh out of the kirin.

 

So, fox & vine - thanks, everyone! And a big mahalo to Pete for his inference! Makes a lot of sense.

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