Goddess Seio-bo. Unsigned

18th century

The goddess Seio-bo stands holding a covered wicker basket, her arms linked inside her voluminous sleeves. Her hair is swept up into a topknot and falls in elaborate loops to her shoulders. Softly draped robes are decorated with a scrolling floral design and her expression is one of benevolent serenity.

Although this always been described as Seio-bo, with the supposition being that her basket contains peaches of longevity, it is not possible to assert this with absolute certainty as she carries none of her traditional attributes, such as a fan, neither does she wear elaborate headgear.

The goddess Kannon can also be seen carrying a basket in her manifestation of Gyoran Kannon – the Fish Kannon – whose story originates in T’ang-era China. In the Japanese version a young girl selling fish asks the Kannon to help her find a husband. Her wish being granted, the girl herself was then considered an incarnation of Kannon. Gyoran Kannon is considered the protector of young men seeking a bride. This suggestion, however, can also be questioned, as the figure represented here does not have her head covered, as is typical Kannon representations.

Height: 8.2cm

Mrs Isobel Sharpe collection
Mark T. Hindson collection

Davey, N.K., Netsuke. A comprehensive study based on the M. T. Hindson collection, 1974, p. 363, no. 1093

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