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43. A kagamibuta with takazogan portrait of Tenjin standing by meadow grass, his robes blowing in the wind, inspired by a pair of loons in flight. Tenjin is the Shinto deity of poets and scholars, his origin that of the deified personage Sugawara no Michizane (845-903). Mid 1800’s.

Diameter: 4.4 cm


44. A netsuke of a very young Kintaro (the boy Hercules) nursing at his mother Yama-Uba's breast. As a woman raising her child in exile, she is depicted disheveled and care worn. Kintaro was without human playmates, so he famously made the mountain creatures his friends, and is here joined by a young Saru (macaque) who offers his friend a peach and a long-eared mountain Usagi (hare). Yama-Uba is seated on a bench of gnarled root wood where the artist has found the opportunity to fashion a very natural yet highly functional himotoshi. Signed Gyokuso. Mid-19th century

Height: 4.3 cm


45. A cluster of six dynamic Noh and Kyogen masks carved with compelling presence. Kitsuné, Okina, Hannya, Sojobo, and forming the natural himotoshi are Okamé and her alter ego, the mischievous Oni. Theater was a passionate obsession of the historical Japanese and this artist has well represented the impact of this traditional art. Signed Hakuunsai. Mid-19th century.

Length: 3.9 cm


46. An early 18th century netsuke of a standing Shoki with sword drawn in the saishiki technique of painted cypress. Shoki is regarded as a protective guardian. Worn from 300 years of handheld attention.  

Height: 6.6 cm


47. The dragonfly was known as Akitsu in ancient times and Japan as Akitsushima 'Island of the Dragonfly'. Often referred to as the victory insect, its moment of triumph is here juxtaposed with cobwebs and a crumbling wall as a poetic expression of the transitory nature of all things. The tenets of Buddhism run deep in the cultural fabric of Japan and often were reflected in the arts. The unusual shape of this manju is that of edamame, which remains to this day an important staple of this island nation. Mid-19th century.

Length: 4.8 cm


48. An early boxwood netsuke of an oxherd riding his ox while playing a flute, a harvest basket tied on his back. This gentle pastoral subject is traditionally recognized as a symbol of peace. The expression of this young oxherd is one of contented joy, and even his ox is turning his head to enjoy the boy's music. Beautifully patinated with an appealing pronounced wood grain. Signed Tomotada (Shominsai). Circa 1800.

Height: 4.1 cm


49. A stag antler ryusa manju of the Asakusa School that displays prominently two Mon (heraldic crests) surrounded in a cartouche of organic unfurling ferns as a wish for future family posterity. Such manju were not carved as random designs but held significance for the patron who commissioned them. Seal Eisai.

Length: 4.1 cm


50. Gyokkei’s signature piece is this very well rendered seated figure of the sneezer who has tickled himself into sternutation. Compact and charming. Head tilts back and mouth agape. A netsuke intended to evoke a smile. Irregular himotoshi. Signed on an inlaid plaque Gyokkei. Early Meiji. 

Length: 3.9 cm



51. Shoki has the little devil pinned beneath an old straw hat, where Oni took refuge from the hot soybeans of the Setsubun ritual. Shoki's dynamic pounce is evident from the flight of his flailed sleeves and the intensity of his knitted brow. Boxwood, mid-1800s.

Height: 3.1 cm


52. A most unusual antique wood netsuke of a seated monkey with a benign smile and gentle upward gaze. He holds the attributes of the great Taoist sage Shou Lao whose wisdom teachings he aspires to. We are accustomed to seeing mischievous and naughty netsuke portrayals of this simian beast, but this sweet saru has found another way in the Tao. A highly refined carving with expressive countenance and razor fine hair work that shows much attention to detail from every angle. Mid-19th century.

Height: 3.6 cm



53. Over 300 years of Happiness is in this generous mass of a netsuke with its perfect scale to express the largess of spirit for which Hotei the Shinto God of Happiness is so revered. Characteristic of its great age is a very well-worn himotoshi that runs bottom to back and a rich lustrous patina that gives warmth to the entire netsuke. Early 1700s.

Height: 4.8 cm


54. Daikoku, Shinto God of Prosperity is here offered as a talisman to bring us health and longevity, symbolized by the enormous Daikon he carries tied across his back. Daikon (literally "big root") are a purifying food brought as an offering to Shinto Shrines of Prosperity, particularly during the January 7th Daikon Festival. This tactile netsuke is attractively rendered from all angles. Circa 1880.

Length: 4.4 cm



55. Seven Noh masks configured in a brilliant composition both functional and fascinating. Central is Okamé, Goddess of Mirth, who sets a tempo to enjoy each portrayal of the characters represented. Benke – strength and loyalty, Okina – great wisdom, Hannya – wrath and rage of a woman scorned, Oni – mischief and an expression of the Id, Jo – old man (the peace of a life well lived), Kurohige – Mythic Dragon King of the Sea 'Ryujin', protector of Japan. Signed on a tablet Tomochika.

Length: 4.5 cm


56. A netsuke in the form of two architectural end tiles for a gabled roof. The prominent tile is carved with a swirling tomoe, symbol of the balance of the elemental forces of creation. The artist has deliberately carved the effects of erosion along the edges of both tiles. 

Length: 4.1 cm



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