Asian Tribal Art - Cast Aluminum Snake Okimono, Japan

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Snake okimono
Cast aluminum, remnants of gilding or gold paint
Mid 20th century
4.5" (11.4 cm) high by 4" (10 cm) wide

Last year, a small group of cast iron animals was found in a burlap bag in a rural peddler's one-room home in Southwest China. Because of the language barrier, no explanation was provided, but their forms are obviously influenced by a mid-century aesthetic. In a few instances, there are multiple iterations of one animal showing increasing abstraction, as if the artist or studio was exploring the form over time. They may be representations of the zodiac and reportedly hail from Japan as there is a kanji on several of them, as can be seen on the central coil in the photo below. This snake, which is gorgeous from every angle, is one of only two that were cast in aluminum.


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