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15. Kannon Bosatsu, Goddess of Infinite Compassion, here stands with gentle countenance as she offers the sacred pearl of wisdom. In the tenets of Buddhism, truly genuine compassion can only arise from the merging of both wisdom and loving kindness. This netsuke was obviously created for a patron who was a practitioner of Buddhist aspiration. Finely detailed headdress and diaphanous robes. Well-patinated with characteristic wear to the high points. Signed Masakazu. Circa 1800-10.

Height: 6.2 cm


16. A bold netsuke with a delightful sense of mass to the hand depicting a terrified pair of Setsuban Oni desperately shielding themselves beneath a broad-rimmed kasa. One tears at the woven reeds in desperation to cover his massive muscular form as hot soybeans stick to the surface of the hat. Natural himotoshi formed where clawed foot grasps the back of the rim. Signed Toshimasa. Mid-1800’s.

Length: 5.5 cm



17. A boxwood netsuke of a quail resting on a hollow log. Carved with finesse in the delineation of the feather work that is an attractive contrast to the smoother surface of the log. This is an unusual choice of material and pairing of subject compared to the ivory quail and millet we more customarily see. The innovative artist had chosen to carve a natural himotoshi that passes through the hollow of the log. Circa 1800.

Length: 4.0 cm


18. Masanao of Yamada Ise at his best for one of his most celebrated subjects. Representing 'Wabi Sabi' and the transient nature of all things is the old wooden bucket eroded with deep grooves of grain and inlaid in umimatsu to simulate the iron nails of its construction. The frog, a harbinger of good fortune and an indicator species of a healthy environment, is here brilliantly detailed in his signature ukibori technique.

Height: 3.6 cm



19. A tactile highly functional netsuke of a young bamboo shoot. The veining of the overlapping young leaves and the nodules of the budding root formation revealing the contained strength of this prodigious and highly emblematic plant. Signed on an inlaid mother of pearl placque, Naokazu.

Height: 3.7 cm


20. Boxwood netsuke of a snail on a water bucket. Details of ebony inlaid studs. Signed Masanao. Early 19th century. Ex: Hahn Collection. Illustrated: Netsuke from the Teddy Hahn Collection, pg. 79, ills. 107.

Length: 3.7 cm


21. A mid-19th century boxwood netsuke study of seven prominent Noh and Kyogen theater masks. Oni, Hannya, Okame, Hyottoku, Okina, Bishamon, and Usofuki are clustered in a highly tactile and attractive composition. Well patinated with characteristic wear to the highpoints. Signed in an oval reserve Tomomasa.

Diameter: 3.9 cm


22. A fine lattice work stag antler ryusa manju with five Mon (stylized heraldic crests) carved in a rather dynamic composition as if being tossed along in the furls of rolling waves. The center Mon is a Kaki blossom (persimmon), surrounded by Kari (wild goose), Takaha (double falcon feathers), Suzume (3 sparrows) and a stylized Sea Dragon. With research there are numerous ancestries to be inferred by such Mon. It was a common practice in historical Japan for prominent families to display their lineage with Mon on functional works of art. Asakusa school, Mid-19th century.

Diameter: 4.3 cm


23. Boxwood netsuke of an awabi shell. A realistic rendering, the flesh of the mollusc providing a highly tactile contrast to the definition of the hard shell. Signed Shigémasa, Yamada/Nagoya School.

Length: 4.4 cm


24. A mischievous Oni prankster has stolen the sacred Tama, the 'Wish Granting Jewel' of Buddhist ritual practice. Oni has then hidden himself within a hollow log, aware that Shoki (the great hero charged with the boon to tame these recalcitrant demons) is poised above with an attentive gaze searching the surroundings. The artist has brought life and movement to this engaging work of art, even to the point of having cleverly articulated the Oni to pop out from his refuge when he is ready to make his escape. Carved with realistic detail. Signed Rakushin. Circa 1890.

Length: 5.9 cm


25. A great cause for celebration as Daruma rises from nine years of meditation. One can see that the artist has enjoyed his subject, as the humorous seated rocking Daruma bursts free from his tattered monk’s cloak and transforms into a joyous reveler with sake gourd and cup raised. The well-defined musculature, tattered apertures of his cloak and joyous expression are all indicative of a highly skilled carver. Signed Tachi Tsubasa.

Height: 6.8 cm


26. A remarkably detailed netsuke of a male rat and young with chestnut, all associated symbols of abundance from a time when the Japanese were largely living as an agrarian society where wealth included great stores of grain. Rats trying to get at these stores were considered clever and worthy adversaries. Japan did not experience the squalor of the slums of European cities where superstition caused the elimination of cats and the consequence of the Black Plague. Much like rabbits and squirrels, the rat was accepted to have its place in the natural order. Signed Shomin. Lightly stained ivory with razor fine hair work and inlaid eyes. Circa 1860.

Length: 3.8 cm



27. A late 18th century stag antler netsuke of a cluster of molluscs with characteristic wear to the high points. The artist has employed the irregular surface of the pith of the antler to simulate encrustations and natural erosion of the largest shell. The waxy exterior serves well as the flesh of the mollusc giving a very tactile surface to the base. Worn himotoshi. 

Length: 5.2 cm


28. Okamé, Shinto Goddess of Mirth, gives us a broad smile that dimples her plump cheeks as her countenance beckons from within a ceremonial sake bowl. She invites us to celebrate the New Year the way the villages of old Japan would, where, as the evening progressed a ritual of passing the mammoth sake bowl around the gathering encouraged singing, dancing and what often lead to rather ribald displays of humor. The reverse is finely engraved with two sprigs of young pine, a symbol of strength and endurance for the year to come. Signed Masahiro, a near identical example is illustrated in Hindson, pg. 48, #109.

Diameter: 3.8 cm



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