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Help me find Gochin no Tajima!


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Ok, so years ago, while browsing through books about Samurai culture in the university library, I came upon a picture of an ivory carving.





Here's a web link to the same picture and some background:



The details of the carving, the aesthetics, the dynamic posture and the story behind it all really caught my interest. I thought that I would love to be able to create something as beautiful as that. So I photocopied that picture and kept it for a while.


About a year back, while doing some web browsing on samurai, I came accross Dr. Stephen Turnbull's website (http://www.stephenturnbull.com/) and decided to see if he knew anything about the statuette. It turns out he's used the same picture in one of his books, and that the statuette in the collection of the Manchester Museum in the UK. He also mentioned it may have been stolen, along with some others, years ago. I then emailed someone at the museum but received no reply so I let it go...


... and now the search continues! I though this forum might be a good place to see if I can get any more information about the statuette, or other similar works as sources of inspiration for carving.


Looking forward to any responses!

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Hi Hovig,


I am familiar with this image, I photocopied as well. It is a commonly used pose and subject. I have seen similar pieces, in various materials offered for sale over the years, and will check my files over the next few days to see if I come up with anything. I know that I photocopied a photo of another similar piece, but I'm not sure if I still have the image.


Regarding your letter to the Manchester Museum, I would give them another try. I believe that museum has recently gone through some major rennovations, and it could be that you caught them at the wrong time. Having worked many years for a large museum, I can tell you that they are usually understaffed, and that letters frequently fall through the cracks. Keep trying, and if you don't get a reply, go higher. The squeaky wheel will eventually get the grease.



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Thanks for the reply Phil!


It's nice to see the piece has had the same appeal to others. Anything you could come up with regarding the statuette or a similar one would be great!


In my searchings there was one instance of a doll/action figure someone made that was obviously based on the statuette. It had the same pose and scenery. Interestingly, no reference was made to the statuette.


In the meantime, I did email another of the museum staff, who appears to be on vacation. I will keep trying though, thanks for the encouragement.

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  • 3 weeks later...



Someone at the museum finally got back to me:



Dear Hovig,


Attached are two recent colour views of the figure.


Our details for this are:

Accession Number: T.2242

Bequeathed by R W Lloyd 1958.

Japan 19thC

Currently not on display.


If you do post it on your forum I would be grateful if you could reference the Museum (www.manchester.ac.uk/museum)


Best wishes,



Malcolm Chapman

Head of Collections Management

The Manchester Museum

The University of Manchester

Oxford Road


M13 9PL

Tel: +44(0)161 275 2652

Fax: +44(0)161 275 2676

Email: malcolm.chapman@manchester.ac.uk

Web: www.manchester.ac.uk/museum


And here are the pictures:





Of course, one would like to have more close-up pics to examine the work more closely, but beggars can't be chosers. This will have to do for now. Hope others enjoy this as much as I do.



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Hi Hovig,


Well done! That's a great piece. I never did find the one the photos that I saved. I think I may have got rid of them recently while cleaning out some old files. The piece that I was refering to was about twice that size, and cast bronze, I believe.



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