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Jap Statue

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Ca. 1897 drink token from the Art Saloon in San Francisco:




I first saw this sculpture as a kid on vacation in San Francisco. It was at the Cliff House at a Ripley museum and later at Fisherman's Wharf if I remember correctly. It is now located at a Ripley museum in Wisconsin.


The artist Hananuma Masakichi was dying of tuberculosis and he endeavored to carve a life-sized sculture of himself. He used his own hair (individually pulled and inserted into small holes), all his hair including eyelashes, etc., his own fingernails, and his own teeth. A description from a historic postcard reads:


The statue is composed of over 2000 separate pieces being hollow with the exception of the feet. The head, thighs, calves, and every member of the anatomy was carved separately and the whole put together. The joints were perfectly made, dovetailed, and glued together -- no metal nails, only wooden pegs or pins beings used to fasten where necessary. After putting all the members together and finishing as far as the woodwork was concerned, he painted and lacquered the statue to give it the flesh and blood appearance; The hairs which adorn the figure belong to himself. He used clippings of his head and ears and each and every hair is bored for and put in one by one. The body hairs were actually pulled from his own body and put in exactly the same position as they occupied on himself. The eyes were also made by the artist and are the wonder of the oculist and optical precision.


The statue is one of those things that sticks in my memory from childhood. I now own a token to remind me of those memories.

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