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Subject:Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Karl Tue, Apr 23, 2019 IP:


Could you guys help me out on these 3 clay turtles?
They appear to be finished in 'Bizen' style and are made out of clay. The shield, body with feet and heads with necks are 3 separate pieces, due to which the heads of the turtles can be 'stretched out' or 'tucked in'. Is this feature called 'nodder'?

The biggest is ca. 14,4 cm and weighs 300 grams, the middle 12 cm and the smallest 11 cm

They are marked with a blind stamp, but it's not very clear on these pictures.

Any idea if these are indeed Japanese okimono's and has anyone seen these 'movable' heads before?

Thanks in advance,







Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Stan Thu, Apr 25, 2019

We have a netsuke with a similar feature. It was purchased at auction when the New Orleans Art Museum deaccessioned artwork to raise money after Hurricane Katrina. It was part of a twofer which I bought for the other netsuke.


Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Karl Fri, Apr 26, 2019

Thank you, Stan! Looks very similar indeed, only the ceramic turtles feature loose legs as well.

The shield is a single part, the body with legs is a single part within the shield and the head and neck is a loose part within the body. It’s not (easy) to separate...

Here a close up of one of the makers stamps with 2 characters, anyone able to read it? Is it Japanese? How old might the turtles be?



Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Karl Sat, Apr 27, 2019

Just found a similar ceramic turtle from an older auction.
Looks to be made out of the same material and shows almosr identical features and details, also with the movable head. Only the colors/shading are somewhat different.
The piece from the auction is said to be from the Meiji period.

More comments are very welcome, though!



Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Guy Tue, Apr 30, 2019

The maker's mark reads 'Takaaki' (郁明), probably the name of a lineage of Bizen potters.


Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Karl Wed, May 01, 2019

Hallo Guy,

Thank you, wonderful! Is it certainly Japanese kanji, or could it be Chinese as well?
The turtles have a bizen finish (look), but on the inside and edges appear to be made out of regular/orange ceramic like roof tiles or plant pots.
Any guess when these 3 were made?

Cheers and thanks a lot,


Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Guy Wed, May 01, 2019

'Takaaki' is a Japanese name. From the same maker or kiln:

Subject:Re: Japanese clay 'Bizen' turtle okimono?
Posted By: Karl Thu, May 02, 2019

Hi Guy,

Thanks once again!
Ok, good to know! That link is fantastic, looks to be exactly the same turtle or 'kame' and even the same makers mark?
Only thing that is a little vague for me is the used material. I own some other 'bizen' items like vases, and they appear to be totally made out of dark brown clay with several 'random' patterns and shades.
The turtles have more or less the same appearance from the outside, but on the inside one can clearly see orange ceramic. So it appears that the brown/'bizen'-finish has been applied later on to the turtles. It's not real 'bizen' then, right?
They also show many painted on details, especially on the underside of the shield.

Could someone comment on this?


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