Incense case in the shape of an elephant

attributed to the 3rd Raku Donyu17th century, Edo period

Tachibana Museum

Tachibana Museum
Fukuoka-ken, Japan

This incense case is made of red clay and covered with glaze. The lid is shaped like an elephant’s head with its trunk lifted high, while the matching container is shaped like an elephant's body with very short legs and a tail.
Although the overall impression is quiet and simple, the extremely exaggerated head-shaped lid and the small container body displays a sense of humor.
It has a seal, ‘Raku’, on its forehead. The details of the seal are unclear, but this piece has been handed down as the work of Donyu, the 3rd head of the Raku family. The note written on the box for this incense case says ‘by Nonko’, which was another name for Donyu.


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