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Okimono - Ivory, Chinese Deity Xi Wangmu or Seiobo, Japan, early Meiji Period, 1868-1880 Object Reg. No: HT 22621

Carved ivory figure (okimono) of the Chinese deity Xi Wangmu, Queen Mother of the West, also known by her Japanese name, Seiobo, manufacted in Japan in the early Meiji period (1868-1880).

An okimono is an object specifically created for display, and typically depict domestic scenes of farmers, fishermen, and children and occasionally, studies of birds, animals and flowers. Similar to, but larger than netsuke, Okimono were traditionally displayed in the tokonoma, or alcove. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), many okimono were made for export to the west.

Revered in Taoist belief as the High Priestess Mother of Immortality, Xi Wangmu lives in the Kunlun Mountains in western China, bordering the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, south of the Tarim basin in Xinjiang province. She is the guardian of a garden situated high above the clouds in the Kunlun, in which a peach tree grows that ripens only once every 300 years. These peaches produce immortality, which is why Xi Wangmu is always depicted holding or wearing peaches, the symbol of eternal life. In this example, she is holding two peaches in her left hand.

In the 1st century BC, Xi Wangmu was often paired with Dong Wangmu, the King Father of the East.
Ornate carving in ivory of a woman holding two peaches in her left hand, and fan to her head in her right hand.
Acquisition Information:
Cultural Gifts Donation from Dr Will Twycross, 2009
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 107 mm (Height), 49 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: exhibitions melbourne international 1880-1881, royal exhibition building, japanese art, decorative arts, ivory, japanese culture, royal exhibition building history of events 1879-1899
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection, John Twycross Melbourne International Exhibitions Collection
Secondary Classification: International Exhibitions
Tertiary Classification: exhibition heritage
Place & Date Made: Japan, 1868-1880

early Meiji Period; Edo Period, 1603-1867; Meiji Period, 1868-1912
Place & Date Exhibited: Royal Exhibition Building (REB), Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 1880-1881
Collector: Mr John Twycross, Elsternwick, Victoria, Australia, 1881

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