Daikoku nezumi


Okimono in wood
Meiji, 19th century
H: 11cm, D: 13cm, L: 22cm
Collector’s box

Daikokuten, which originated in Mahākāla in the Buddhist name for Shiva, is one of the Seven Lucky Gods which symbolizes great darkness or blackness, or the god of five cereals. This god is loved by the Japanese because he is a symbol of wealth and Prosperity. He has always a mallet in his hand, and is often depicted with it and a big bag hold on his back. He is also depicted with mouse because it is believed that mouse is a messenger of this god. The mouse is an auspicious animal in Japan because of its strong propagation. The messenger mouse is especially called “Daikoku nezumi (mouse)”, and has been a popular motif in the Japanese arts.

A mouse is clinging to a mallet which is almost the same size. The design of mallet is very simple, but Cintamani (a wish-fulfilling jewel within both Hindu and Buddhist traditions) is carved on each side. This motif comes together with the sculpture of Daikoku. The carver chiseled finely, and he expressed the mouse’s fur intentionally.
The mouse is looking up something seriously, even devoutly. Probably it is looking up its master, Daikoku. Its expression is very touching, somehow.