Ivory Netsuke Illustrating the Twelve Zodiac Animals Signed by Meigyokusai
Meigyokusai is a famous Japanese master netsuke carver who lived in Kyoto. His work is published in Miriam Kinsey’s Contemporary Netsuke, page 185. To the Netuske collector, the name Meigyokusai is synonymous with expert, detailed workmanship of typically traditional subjects. Meigyoku Hiragana was born in 1896 in Tokyo, and later moved to Kyoto where he died in 1990. His work is very versatile in both technique and subject matter. He often draws upon old classical motifs for his subjects, and they are always unique in their designs, like his twelve animals of the zodiac netsuke, (pictured) which is considered one of his signature pieces. He received many prizes for his carving before he was twenty-five, and became famous not only for his skills as an ivory carver, but also as a Senryu poet and teacher.
As shown in the images this piece is an EXCEPTIONALLY detailed carving of each animal. It appears that this piece was made for someone born during the Year of the Horse, which is the prominent animal on the Netsuke. On the bottom of the piece every animal’s feet are shown in great detail, and it is signed by Meigyokusai. It comes in the original kiri wood box, which is signed and stamped. Approximate age: 1920’s. With original, beautiful patina. Dimensions: 1 ½”w x 1 1/8”d x 7/8”h
NOTE: Thanks to preservation efforts, animals and endangered materials (e.g. ivory and rare woods) are conservatively used today, if not banned altogether. However, we recognize that these materials have been important since ancient times for making a wide range of functional and decorative items. We only feature antique ivory and rare tree species because, while we support conservation, we truly feel that the experience and appreciation of historic artifacts should also be preserved.