Netsuke- five shishi by Murata Seimin 村田製眠

Gallery – display only
A wood study of a group of shishi lions
Edo period (1615-1868), 19th century
The intricately-carved group of five shishi (lions) atop a base carved to look like a ground plane, two with open mouths, two playing with an openwork brocade ball, and a small one attempting to climb onto the back of another, a single hole in the base, with an inlaid plaque of mother-of-pearl signed Seimin.

2in (5.1cm) wide

SEIMIN  was active in the 19TH CENTURY.



I purchased this from Bonham’s during the sale FIRST CALL OF THE PHEASANT; JAPANESE ART OFFERINGS OF THE NEW YEAR, January 2022. Bonham’s owns the pictures and text above. Their description did not include detail on the artist so I’ll include below on what little is available with research.

The Japanese artist was Murata Seimin 村田製眠. Seimin was a sculptor, goldsmith, metal worker and carver. B. 1781 M. 1837

“Seimin specialised in precise bronze sculpture using the lost-wax method (see; Smith et al 1990, p. 29). Much of his work was of Buddhist subjects, such as the casting of 500 arhats (disciples of the Buddha) at Kenchoji Temple in Kamakura. His other work included vases and ornaments, and he was famed for his studies of tortoises.”1

In Baltimore Maryland at The Walters Museum, Seimin’s famous cast of the Eleven turtles were formerly on display. The museum site mentions the last exhibit in 1995, then inspection in 2014. A pdf of their page with the turtles castings was saved with pictures should it be taken off the internet. They also have three other cast items by Seimin, two consisting of Dragon motif and one that is of a praying mantis.