The Tale of the Tongue-cut Sparrow ( with poseable head)
Artist's notes on style, materials and inspiration:
The theme of this special mini set comes from one of my favourite Japanese folk tales, The Tongue-Cut Sparrow - a well known story that was made even more popular when it was printed in a chirimen-bon (crepe paper book, with woodblock pictures and text) in the Meiji period.
The story is worth reading in its full version, however here is a brief summary: There was once a poor old couple, the man was a woodcutter who was honest and kind, but his wife was known to be short tempered and greedy. With no children, the man began to care for an injured sparrow. His wife was not happy with him wasting precious rice feeding the bird, but he took no notice.
One day whilst he was out cutting wood, his wife was doing laundry and had set some starch out. The sparrow ate it, and in her anger, she cut out the bird's tongue and it flew off.
When the old man returned and found the sparrow gone he went searching for it. He found his way to the Sparrow's Inn, where a group of sparrows welcomed him and took him to his friend, the sparrow he had cared for. They brought him food, and sang and danced. Just as he was leaving to return home, the sparrows presented him with a choice of a large basket or a small basket as a gift. Being an older man, he chose the small basket as he supposed it would be the least heavy. They told him not to open it until he was home.
When he got back, he opened the basket to find a large amount of treasure inside. When he told his wife that there had been a larger basket, she berated him and rushed off to the sparrow's inn to claim it. Although they warned her not to open it until she was home, she couldn't wait and lifted the lid of the basket on the mountain path home.
Out of the basket came a huge number of monsters, demons and creatures, shocking the old woman into falling down the mountainside.
My wood girl version has a sparrow with a moveable (removeable ball) head, a wooden basket with a painted eye on one side and eight tiny monsters - A red oni, a one-eyed demon, a blue oni, a chochin obake (broken lantern yokai) a kasa obake (a broken umbrella yokai), a kuro kamikiri (black hair-cutter) a yurei ghost and a kappa.
My pieces are painted in a naïve and simple style, with visible brush strokes and differing paint consistencies. It is important to note that these pieces are made from real wood which will have naturally occurring markings and grain, and sometimes there will be small amount of bleeding along the grain, or knots, which is to be expected when using untreated wood - please make sure you consult the pictures carefully before purchasing. The pieces have been finished in a top coat of matt acrylic.
Stamped underneath on all micro girls with a little bear head in blue ink. The basket and sparrow both have painted signatures underneath.
Wooden basket: 7cm diameter, 6.7cm height.
Sparrow: 8 cm height.
Please note: THIS IS NOT A TOY and should be kept out of the reach of children.