Statue of a retired townsman


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

In Japan it was quite common for prosperous townsmen and merchants to become lay Buddhist monks while continuing their secular lives. They believed that by having their portraits made they would preserve the well-being of their family, and its Buddhist traditions.This statue is less than half a metre high, and yet it has a great air of solidity and calm. The fine lacquer work and pigments of his vestments survive and the crystal eyes give the figure a gently human expression.


  • Title: Statue of a retired townsman
  • Date Created: 1600/1699
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 42.50cm; Width: 45.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: lacquered; painted; carved
  • Registration number: 1885,1227.98
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: wood; lacquer; mineral
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Franks, Augustus Wollaston

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