Japanese Ivory Chinese Sage Netsuke

While the Dutch living in Japan was a very popular subject for netsuke artists, the Chinese who settled in southern Japan were a somewhat less attractive source for netsuke design. Yet, there are wonderful carvings in ivory and wood of a wide range of Chinese figures, from dignitaries and sages to those in everyday life of a village.

This netsuke depicts a sage standing over a teapot on a table, holding a peach, which is an important symbol in Chinese legend. It is said that the Peach Tree of the Gods blooms once every three thousand years, bearing the fruit of eternal life, granting health, virility, and immortality to those who partake of the offerings from the tree. This beautiful sage is shown in traditional Chinese robes and decorated in soft colors of brown, peach, green, and blue. Approximate date: Late Meiji-1900-1912. Signed: Ichiyusai. Dimensions: 2-0”h x 1-1/8” 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 featureantique 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.

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