A Boy and his Turtle

A 19th century Meiji period Japanese okimono. The Japanese made many fascinating miniature figures and this one is quite unique among its kind, mainly due to its construction and mechanical elements; the articulation of the turtle's hands and feet allow it to move in a very lifelike fashion when exposed to any kind of vibration. It is a very finely manufactured piece that has withstood many earthquakes in its lifetime. Purchased in Japan, this okimono was considered by some collectors to have been either an earthquake detector or a compass, but we believe it was created purely out of aesthetic pleasure and playfulness - much like the young boy entranced by the fluid movement of his pet turtle in a wooden bucket of water.