are you a Man?..or just an Image?

In 1885, at the age of 53, Hananuma Masakichi, an artist who worked in Yokohama, completed a life-size carved wooden figure of himself that was so lifelike that people who viewed the artist alongside his creation could not tell which was the man and which the copy (see close-up photos above and below). According to The Strand Magazine (1898):

The wooden figure seems to live and breathe. By many connoisseurs in art this is pronounced to be the most human and perfect image of a man ever created. It is the artist’s own production of himself, reproducing every detail, even to the most minute scar, vein, and wrinkle.1

The figure is made up of between 2,000 and 5,000 separate pieces of wood,2 all of which were so skilfully dovetailed and joined together that even under a magnifying glass it is impossible to see any of the joins. Following construction, the figure was painted and lacquered to match it’s creator’s own skin tone perfectly, and Masakichi handcrafted glass eyeballs that are

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by Elizabeth

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