3D Model: Children and Lion Dancer

last edited on Thu. March 21 2024

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On view in Meiji Modern, this small ivory okimono or statuette could easily be handled and turned in one’s hands. Carved in intricate detail on every surface, it is meant to be appreciated from multiple angles.

Three children perform the shishi-mai (lion dance), a traditional dance performed during the New Year to dispel evil and bring good fortune. The mask at the object’s base is an otafuku mask, which symbolizes good luck and happiness. Grouped with the drum, which drives off evil, this piece celebrates and protects its owner. Skilled Meiji-period craftsmanship is apparent in the piece. Shallow etchings are used to decorate the garment and hair, while deeper grooves describe curls and the three-dimensionality of the lion costume. Okimono like this piece were desirable commodities during this time due to their high craftsmanship.

—Minori Egashira, PhD Candidate ’25, Art History

Digital scan: Unidentified Artist, Children and Lion Dancer, 1868–1912, Ivory. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Gift of Walter E. and Tekla B. Wolf, 1992.330.

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