Vintage Japanese Bizen Yaki Demon Queller Shoki Zhong Kui Ceramic Statue 15"H 備前鍾馗
Vintage Japanese Bizen Yaki Ceramic Statue
Demon Queller Shoki 鍾馗
Zhong Kui The Ghost Eater
Circa: Showa, Circa Early 1900s’
H 15 in. (38cm), W 8 in. (20cm), D 5.5 in. (14cm)
Condition: minor imperfection and kiln fissure
An imposing statue of the Judge of Hell, Shoki (Chinese: Zhong Kui). He is standing in a striking pose; mad as hellfire, his left foot stepping forward in a combative posture, with a drawn sword in hand, ready to slay any poor devils in his way. Zhong Kui made his first appearance in the 8th century when the Tang Emperor Ming Huang was haunted by demons during his sleep. Then one night he dreamed of a huge demon capturing and eating a smaller one. Upon awakening, Emperor Ming Huang instructed the court painter Wu Daozi to paint a portrait of the Ghost Eater. This became the first image of Zhong Kui, a black-faced Judge of Hell with a large flaring beard, dressed in imperial robes and wielding a large sword.
Bizen Yaki 備前焼 was considered one of the Six Ancient Kilns in Japan. Its iron-like hardness and gradual colors on the silken surface are from the direct result of firing in a kiln, where 1200°C was maintained for over two weeks. It isn't unusual for ceramic fissures during this firing process. The technique was falling out of favor in the Meiji period. It was Kaneshige Toyo (1896–1967) helped to revive the Momoyama style Bizen Yaki in the 1930s, and was named a Living National Treasure during the early Shōwa era.