Length: 31 5/8 inches, 81 cm
Height: 9 5/8 inches, 25 cm

Architectural carving of a monster’s mask

Japan, Edo period, 1603 - 1868

A wooden architectural carving in the form of a monster’s mask, showing the head and manes.  The fierce head is shown with teeth bared, widely bulging eyes and a broad, flat nose.  The wood has preserved some fragments of the original red pigment.

A pair of comparable architectural wood carvings showing the Thunder God and the Wind God is preserved in the collection of Avery Brundage at the Museum of Asian Art in San Francisco. 1 Yoshiko Kakudo writes that “Their ferocious facial features are emphasized by shaggy hair and spiky beards.” 2 They represent supports for beams and are intended, according to Kakudo “… to protect {…} against the natural elements. 3

  1. Lefebvre d’Argencé, R-Y Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1974, no. 222, pp. 418-9
  2.  Lefebvre d’Argencé, R-Y, op. cit. p. 418
  3.  Lefebvre d’Argencé, R-Y, op. cit. p. 418