Japanese Ivory Netsuke of Hotei (God of Happiness and Good Fortune)
Hotei [布袋] translated means “replenishment”, and comes from the treasure bag (Nunokukuro), that Hotei carries which is a symbol of inspiration and nourishment. Hotei is often depicted as an amply-proportioned bald man wearing a robe, and almost always shown smiling or laughing. Hotei is admired for his happiness, plenitude, and wisdom of contentment, and illustrates his lifestyle by carrying his few possessions in a cloth sack slung over his shoulder. In the Japanese culture, Hotei is one of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin), and is considered the protector of children, and the God of abundance and good health.
Carving netsuke was quite a challenge because they were so small and yet had to function as practical items in conjunction with the Inro. This netsuke is delicately detailed particularly with the face, hands and feet, with bamboo leaves carved throughout his robe and sack, and naturally aged, having a beautiful patina. The piece is heavy, and follows the standard design of a netsuke, having the himo-toshi (holes for hanging from the inro) on the upper back of the piece. Toward the end of the 18th century, many netsuke began to carry the signatures of their creators. This piece is signed on the bottom byKogyoku. Approximate age: 1868-1912 (Meiji Period). Dimensions: 1 ¾”w x 1 ¾”d x 1 ¼”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 other materials because, while we support conservation, we truly feel that the experience and appreciation of historic artifacts should also be preserved.
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