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17. A sakura (cherry wood) manju netsuke depicting implements of Chanoyu, the traditional tea ceremony. The utensils shown are the sumi tori – charcoal basket, the haboki – feather brush for ashes, and the hibachi – iron tongs for tending fire, all carved in inlaid mother of pearl. The overall ground of the manju has been carved in a continuous pattern of florets within six sided tortoise shell kikko mon. Mother of pearl lined himotoshi. Signed in the interior Rensha. Ex: Atchley Collection. Illustrated: The Virginia Atchley Collection of Japanese Miniature Arts, pg. 160, ills. N221.

Diameter: 3.8 cm


18. 18th century wood netsuke of a frog on a lotus seed pod. The frog symbolizes rebirth, the spring, rejuvenation. The lotus is the symbol of Buddhist teachings, and the seed pod is associated with abundance and new beginnings. Inscribed: ‘Carved at 79 years old.’ Attributed to Minko I. Ex: Hahn Collection. Illustrated: Netsuke from the Teddy Hahn Collection, Barry Davies Oriental Art, pg. 83, ills. 115.

Length: 4.2 cm



19. A boldly carved boxwood okimono of the tickler who hopes to create a sneeze. Sneezing was considered a healthy occurrence that encouraged vitality. This humorous study enjoys the absurdity of the willful practice to stimulate this natural bodily function. Teeth, eyes and tickling stick in ivory. Properly placed himotoshi, but unlikely such a large piece would function well as a netsuke. Signed Ryugyoku.

Height: 7.0 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 netsuke of dual function serving as both toggle and a container for powdered ink. This carefully chosen miniature gourd is beautifully detailed in fine lacquer with flowering gourd vines of takamakié and hiramakié in gold and shakudô. Banded at the waist in silver and finished with a silver chrysanthemum rim and stopper. Circa 1880. 

Height: 7.8 cm


22. An antique Japanese ivory netsuke in the ryusa manju form of a cluster of nine principle Noh theater masks. Each mask has a well animated expression. Signed Rakuosai. Circa 1820.

Length: 3.9 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. An antique Japanese ivory mask study of the legendary character, Hiottoko, who faithfully stirs the elixir of immortality at the bequest of the Emperor. His classic portrayal is always with his lips pursed in the effort of his enduring endeavor. Here the artist has added an element of humor to his character with pursed lips that actually move and one eye squinting. 19th century. Ex: Steinburg Collection, NY. 

Height: 6.1 cm


25. A netsuke study of a very congenial Gama Sennin wearing mugwort cape, resting upon a scholar’s rock with his companion the 3-legged toad of happiness. Carved of walrus ivory where the composition ingeniously incorporates the granular nerve cavity of this difficult material. This netsuke is so idiosyncratic as to be definitively attributed to Chogetsu. Mid-19th century. 

Height: 4.0 cm


26. An ivory manju with hiramakie gold lacquer decoration of fish among reeds. Irregular himotoshi. Signed Houn with kakihan. Ex. Lazarnik Collection, lacquer signature illustrated pg. 495.

Diameter: 4.6 cm


27. An unusual and amusing study of a mammoth frog, by scale, to his Lilliputian Gama Sennin, lounging in repose upon his back. Both are very animated characters who are obviously at ease in each other’s company. Well patinated boxwood with eyes inlaid in ivory and umimatsu. Circa 1810. 

Height: 3.3 cm


28. An 18th century grazing horse, boldly carved with well-defined sculptural contours and a rather elegant composition of flowing lines. Unusual for this classic subject is the drape of the saddle blanket, perhaps a nobleman’s steed having respite from a vigorous campaign. Beautifully patinated with characteristic wear to the high points. Brass inlaid eyes. Tsu School. 

Height: 4.8 cm



29. A netsuke of a Kyogen actor in the role of Fox Priest with long-haired wig and fox mask. He is kneeling holding suzu bells in his left hand and gohei with two streamers of shidé in his right for the Shinto ritual of bestowing blessings. The mask conveys a charming and benign persona, perhaps like the small votive foxes in the temple of Inari, this netsuke is intended to grant wishes. Irregular himotoshi. Unsigned. Circa 1810.

Height: 4.2 cm


30. An 18th century traveling tanuki whose enormous scrotum has been employed to cover his head from inclement weather. With his left hand he holds back the tresses of his hair and with his right he carries a pail as he licks his lips, one presumes of his favorite libation saké. A rich patina turned orange on the reverse. Natural himotoshi.

Height: 5.1 cm



31. An amusing and rather animated study of a seated Daruma accompanied by an attentive Bijin as he tweezes his nose hairs. This netsuke is a charming example of the Japanese proclivity to depict even their most reverent spiritual icons as all too human. Well detailed, even at the bottom with toes and fingers folded beneath their robes. Signed Gyokuhosai.

Height: 3.6 cm


32. A stag antler sashi-style netsuke of a cucumber with natural himotoshi formed by the bend of its stem. Attractively patinated. Circa 1860.

Length: 13.1 cm



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