Articulated model carp

Japan, 18th-19th century AD

The carp was a favourite fish of Japanese artists and craftsmen. The leaping carp signified perseverance. In recent times it has been associated with Boys' Day (5 May) when carp streamers are flown from tall poles. As they swim through the air, they are a reminder to young boys to face life's hardships bravely.

Articulated iron models like this were probably made as an ornament to be placed in the tokonoma (an alcove in the reception room). This carp was signed by Muneyori, a member of the Myōchin family of armourers. Although these signatures are often similar to the signatures found on armour, it seems that no single maker can be identified who made both armour and models.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Length: 45.500 cm

Museum number

Asia JA HG765


Bequeathed by Professor and Mrs John Hull Grundy


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