This beautiful sculptural curiosity is a Japanese wood and papier mache fragment--half of a rib cage--from what I presume was a full body model of a human skeleton. I've learned that very finely crafted wooden skeletons were first created during the Edo era in Japan (late 1700s/early 1800s), when medical doctors were unable to keep human skeletons for study and teaching purposes. I would imagine this piece was made following in that tradition; I am not certain its age, but would think 19th century, with Japanese text visible on the printed paper used for the papier mache at the ends of the ribs. I find it quite an exquisite and evocative thing, which could be set on a surface or hung the wall, and could be made to cast some wonderfully dramatic shadows
8" x 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" measured on the square. Good antique condition, with a marvelous surface. Sound and stable, with all pieces well attached; one does want to be a little gentle with it.