This Japanese antique Bizen pottery statue or ornament of Gonbei 農家 is an old Bizen statue with much character, representing an old Japanese Folk Tale. I believe it is a rare motif for Bizen and made this greatly. The seller from Japan's l translation was Gobei Seeds It. This statue depicts part of the folk take of Gonbei the farmer sowing his seed. The age of this item is from the late 1800's; most likely early Meiji era per the seller from Japan.Because he is very old, there is not a signature, which is often the case. Because we have shared much about Bizen ware with some of the other items, we will share summation of the Story of Gonbei, below. We also own the Bizen Pottery Magical Teapot of Gonbei which is another story and will be posted after this.
This lovely antique piece is in good condition, aged with beautiful Bizen patina as it does. The seller from Japan told me, Gonbei does the fun face very much. I will let you be the judge of what that means by looking at it. The details of the piece and facial expression are wonderful. There is some age wear/ rubbing and scratching but still in good antique condition, please see the pictures.
SIZE: 7.08 inches or 18cm, Width 3.5 inches or 9cm by front to back 3.3 inches or 8.5cm
Weight: 634 grams or 1.4 lbs
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The Story of Gonbei the 農家 Farmer
from the Yanagita Guide to Japanese Folk Tale
Long ago there was a farmer who was a little simple. Nobody wanted to marry him, so he lived alone in a little hut. One evening a beautiful woman came and asked him to take her as his wife and they married. She was so beautiful that Gonbei was completely charmed and lost interest in work. She had him draw a picture of her and take it with him to his garden patch. He hung it on the branch of a tree while he worked. One day a big wind blew the picture high, then dropped it into the yard of a feudal lord. When the feudal lord saw the picture, he wanted the woman as his bride. He sent his men out to look for her. They learned that she was Gonbei's wife, and they forced her to go with them to the castle. As his wife left, she told Gonbei to come
to the castle gate to sell pine boughs on New Year's Eve. He took the pine boughs and stood before the gate, shouting, 'Pine boughs, pine boughs!' The wife, who had not smiled since she had been taken away, broke into a laugh. The feudal lord was so pleased that he had the pine bough pedlar brought in. He traded clothes with him and imitated him to make the woman laugh. He then went out to the street to imitate him.
In the meantime, the woman had the gates closed, and the feudal lord could not come back in. He was left on the outside while Gonbei and his wife occupied the castle and lived there together.