Hananuma Masakichi (はなぬま まさきち?, 1832-1895) was a Japanese sculpture artist. Believing that he was dying from tuberculosis, Masakichi sculpted a life size statue of himself as a gift to the woman he loved, which was completed in 1885. The artist himself died 10 years later, in poverty aged 63.
The Masakichi statue is renowned for being nearly identical in appearance to its creator. Made of between 2000 and 5000 wooden strips (reports differ), it is connected only by dovetail joints, glue and wooden pegs. No joint is visible on the statue, and it is lacquered to show every detail of Masakichi, including muscle, bone and vein. The artist also manufactured anatomically correct glass eyeballs for the statue. Finally, individual holes were drilled in the statue to represent the pores of the skin, and the corresponding hair inserted.
The statue was later purchased by Robert Ripley in 1934, and was housed in his California Odditorium until his death in 1949. After Ripley's death, the masterpiece toured various Odditoriums until it was stored in the Los Angeles Odditorium where it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The statue is currently awaiting restoration in Los Angeles Odditorium and a replica is in the London Odditorium, located at 1 Piccadilly Circus.
- "The World of Ripley's Believe It or Not"
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