Japanese wood okimono study of a pair of hares (usagi 兎) naturalistically carved in marubori (carving in the round) one is seated and the other is standing with its forepaw raised to its chest in an alert attitude, each signed with incised characters Hirotsugu to 広次刀 (carved by Hirotsugu) in 1951 in the Zodiac year of the hare (Showa 26).
The tomobako wood storage box bearing inscription:
Usagi ittsui 兎一對（兎一対 (a pair of hares).
Reverse lid with inscription:
Showa nijuroku-nen juichi-gatsu, Mogi Hirotsugu saku, with the seal Hirotsugu no in 昭和二十六年十一月, 茂木弘次作, with the seal 広次之作( made by Mori Hirotsugu, in November of Showa 26, with the seal of Hirotsugu).
The artist Mogi Hirotsugu (1916-2006) was born in Izumozaki, Niigata Prefecture and studied wood carving under famous sculptors of the time such as Yoshida Homei, Kitamura Seibo (1884-1987) and Amenomiya Jiro (1889-1970). Hirotsugu exhibited at the Japan Art Association (Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai), and at the Traditional Wood Carving Exhibition (Seito Kibori Ten).
He carved many statues of the poet/priest Ryokan and exhibited regularly at the Nitten Exhibitions. His work is in the Tokugawa Museum of Art in Nagoya.
The Hare is the fourth sign of the Japanese Zodiac and is considered to be a symbol of luck and fertility.
Size standing hare H 19 cm (7.5" in.) x W 14 cm (5.5" in.) x D 10.5 cm (4.1" in.)
Size sitting hare H 10 cm (4" in.) x W 18 cm (7" in.) x D 10 cm (4" in.)
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