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Two Japanese lacquer and mixed inlay 'Foxes wedding' panels, 19th century. Estimate: £25,000 – £30,000 ($38,750 - $46,500). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2015.

The panels decorated in relief with carved ivory, bone, mother-of-pearl and stag antler inlay, the first panel is depicting a scene from the Japanese folklore kitsune no yomeiri, The Foxes Wedding, showing the wedding procession at night with lanterns before a torii gate in a misty woodland, the fox seated in the palanquin bearing the family crest of a flaming pearl is wearing a wedding veil; the second panel depicts a figural formal procession before a castle compound and Mount Fuji, the central figure is being carried in a palanquin bearing the Tokugawa family mon, signed Matsuya sei (made by Matsuya)

The USA has recently changed its policy on the import of property containing elephant ivory. Only Asian Elephant ivory may be imported into the USA, and imports must be accompanied by DNA analysis and confirmation the object is more than 100 years old. Buyers will be responsible for the costs of obtaining any DNA analysis or other report required in connection with their proposed import into the USA. A buyer’s inability to export or import a lot is not a basis for cancelling their purchase. 44 3/8 x 31 ½ in. (112.5 x 80 cm.), framed.

NotesIn various parts of Japan the foxes wedding folklore, Kitsune no yomeiri, is recounted in literature and re-enacted or performed in rituals or festivals. Foxes are popular creatures in Japan, being seen as intelligent shape-shifters and tricksters who posses magical powers and are regarded as spiritual entities (they are associated with Inari the Shinto deity for rice). There are different interpretations or associations of kitsune no yomeiri, one relating to mysterious lights seen in the forest at night which were thought to be the paper lanterns carried in wedding processions, traditional Japanese weddings were often held at night and the bride would be escorted with a parade of lanterns, and as these mysterious lights would vanish when approached it was thought to be a trick played by foxes.

It is unusual to see this subject matter depicted on large lacquer panels, with other representations of the kitsune no yomeiri usually being seen in woodblock prints and on inro.

Christie's. OUT OF THE ORDINARY, 10 September 2015. London, South Kensington