Skillfully carved dragons coil about well matched rosewood staffs, forever chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom - these candlesticks feel virtually alive. The shape of the base is distinctly a Japanese one, rather like a Shinto talisman circle, and otherwise we might easily identify these as Chinese. The shape of the dragon's head is arguably Japanese as well, and Japanese dragons usually are more serpentine with shorter legs, as these carvings depict. However - though this is not a hard and fast rule, Japanese dragons usually have three claws. These serpents have four, to my eyes. But I've seen dragons on Japanese porcelain vases with four claws. Perhaps these candlesticks were exported to China; the Japanese made many artworks for the Chinese tourist markets during the late Qing dynasty. Wooden candlesticks for obvious reasons aren't as survivable as their metal or ceramic cousins. These are well carved, and use wood joinery techniques in their assembly. We would date these to late Edo to early Meiji period, circa 1850 to no later than 1900. And earlier seems more correct than later. Each measures about 9 inches or about 23cm tall; these are full sized candlesticks. Beautiful, somewhat eerie and wonderfully scarce!
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