Provenance: Formally the property of a Hampshire Gentleman; acquired before 2000.
Date: c. 1650-80
Height: 6.7 inches (including stand)
Weight: 140 grams (including stand)
The post medieval carved (limewood?) figurine representing a priest bearing a frog on a platter in his left hand; an animal skin garment to the front, with the head hanging down to the knees; the coat cut with triangular segmented border, narrow belt and broad collar to the shoulders; supplied with custom-made display stand.
In generally fine condition, with much of the original paint remaining, the figure sits on a contemporary rod and plinth, and can be spun through three hundred and sixty degrees.
The subject matter is quite unusual, the theme is a perhaps a crossover from Christian and much older animalistic beliefs, the figures subject matter centering on the frog; both on the platter and to the lower animal skin.
The frog, being an amphibian that transforms, is a symbol for birth, death and rebirth and has held an important role in the mythologies of many civilizations. The fact that some frogs can lay up to 3,000 eggs makes it no wonder that they have been associated with many fertility deities and creation itself. In early Christian myth the frog symbolised resurrection and a higher stage of spiritual awakening and because the figurine is pointing to the frog so clearly in this instance, it puts the whole and entire emphasis on the frog, and the connotations that relate to it.
Slightly ambiguous in terms of origin; in that it may be Philippine or Indian, this piece proves a fascinating and intriguing artifact carrying a clear and important message.