Wood and lacquer
29 x 11, 5 cm
Edo period, 19th century
Yokogi are hand carved keyaki wood friction lock from an adjustable pot hook assembly in the shape of a carp (koi). The carp heavily encrusted from smoke and with fine patina from constant cleaning. By adjusting the amount of rod which passed through the hole in the back of the carp, one could adjust the height of the hook above the fire pit (irori) which was in the center of the home.
In Japan and China, the carp is a symbol of bravery and of fulfillment or attainment of aspirations. Based on the Chinese legend that dragons are transformed carps that have overcome the dangers of the nearly impassable Lung Men Rapids. The carp reminds the protective nature of water, which was important around the hearth of the house, in a time when fires often destroyed homes.
For similar examples see; "Ki no Komingei", by Tadashi Morita, Kogeishuppan, Tokyo, 1975, and "Mingei: Two Centuries of Japanese Folk Art, The Japanese Folk Craft Museum", 1995