Info on wooden devil?
March 25, 2011 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Help identify this Chinese "demon" wooden sculpture.

This carved wooden sculpture was acquired in China around 1920, any help in identifying the characters on the lantern or any significance of the object would be appreciated.

Photos: here
posted by splatta to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a Japanese Oni.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:49 PM on March 25, 2011

Yeah, it's Japanese. "奉加" means "donation". Not sure about 悵 (fwiw, google translate says it means "despair" in Chinese)
posted by btfreek at 8:14 PM on March 25, 2011

Not sure about 悵

I wonder if that's an alternative for 帳 as you do see the compound 奉加帳 -- a record of donations, e.g. for building a temple -- so perhaps the figure is both shown holding such a record and maybe even was made to commemorate a successful donation drive? Pretty much idle speculation from me here, no idea if that was the practice and agree your wee fella looks Japanese.
posted by Abiezer at 10:49 PM on March 25, 2011

Actually this (Chinese) link says when a monk went out begging he'd carry a record like that giving his name and the particular project he was attempting to collect money for, so perhaps it's just one of the signifiers that he represents a wandering religious. Lovely piece; like the umbrella (isn't it?) on his back too.
posted by Abiezer at 10:54 PM on March 25, 2011

That is oni no nenbutsu, or an oni dressed as a Buddhist priest on pilgrimage. Here are some prints which show the same figure, it's also the picture which illustrates the term oni on Wikipedia. He carries a drum and scriptures, and is a traveler who depends on charity for food, shelter and small amounts of money. There's a brief description of oni no nenbutsu here, as a figure representing redemption.
posted by illenion at 11:34 PM on March 25, 2011

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