Imai Oshin (1880-1951)
Kyoto, circa 1920
A stag antler okimono in the shape of a cucumber, the skin of the long fruit pimpled in irregular patches. Two thin and papery leaves curl as they begin to dry out while delicate curling tendrils shoot from the twisted stem. The antler is stained green, enhancing its naturalistic appearance.
With accompanying hakobako: 胡瓜、鹿角彫、應心作、印：應心作 Kyu-ri, kazuno-bori, Oshin saku, with the seal Oshin saku. [Cucumber. Stag antler carving. Made by Oshin, with the seal Oshin-saku (made by Oshin)]
Oshin was a highly regarded and successful artist producing objects for the Sencha style of tea ceremony. His brilliance lay in his ability to imagine a hidden form within a section of natural material, this cucumber being a fine example of such skill. Sencha enjoyed great vogue from the Meiji era, right up to the outbreak of the Asia Pacific war in 1941. At that time Oshin moved to Northern Kyoto for safety but the popularity of Sencha dwindled and in his latter years he was obliged rely on the charity of friends, paying them with carvings in the absence of financial wherewithal.