Carp-shaped kettle hanger adjusters
Keyaki wood (Zelkova serrata)
Japan, Meiji period (1868-1926), ca. 19th century
L. 18.1 in (46cm) – H. 8.7 in (22cm)
L. 11.4 in (29cm) – H. 4.5 in (11.5cm)
Fish are an often seen motif for the kettle hanger adjusters which were hung over the hearths. Such hanger adjusters (yokogi) were moved closer to, or further from the hearth’s fire, and consequently acquired an incredible deep patina produced by smoke. The yokogi was often in the shape of fish because of the association between fish and water, and the avoidance of fire. The carp also had significance as an auspicious symbol – one that would be propitious to a family’s prosperity – and was very popular for that reason. It was believed a carp would become a dragon if it succeeded in climbing a waterfall. The bigger one of these examples is extremely sophisticated with a wonderful movement with elegance, while the smaller one is a bit deformed and has a simple and quite humorous shape.