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NEW Vintage & Antique Finds: Japanese Sculpture – See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil


Bronze Okimono Sculpture, Japan, Meiji Period. L: 15-1/4". Gallery #55 & 58: Flying Cranes Antiques/212.223.4600

This week’s featured NEW Vintage & Antique Find is this wonderfully dynamic bronze “okimono” (the Japanese term for objet d’art) from the artistically prolific Meiji period (1868-1912). The sculpture depicts two macaques performing the maxim embodied by sanbiki no saru (three monkeys): see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. This playful realization has two monkeys illustrate all three roles of the proverb, which was originally depicted on one section of an eight-panel 17th century Japenese door carving illustrating Confucius’s Code of Conduct. While in the West, the proverb has come to have the negative connotation of willful ignorance in the face of injustice, the original Buddhist meaning of the proverb was likely simply to avoid dwelling on evil thoughts. To learn more about this piece, contact Flying Cranes Antiques here.

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