Japanese Antique Umoregi Wood Netsuke | RARE Shunga Netsuke

Sale price$185.00

Dimensions: 1 3/8”w x 7/8”d x 1 ½”h 

Being offered is a very RARE Netsuke which was used both as a personal decoration and a handling piece dating from the early 19th/Century and referred to as a Sagemono. The piece is hand-carved of Bosatsu and Orian is made from Umoregi Zaiku wood which has a very dark, brown soft luster. It was a well-known tradition of wealthy Japanese gentlemen to have such a netsuke attached on a cord ending in an Inro, which hung over their obi. To prevent them from falling, they are attached to a Netsuke firmly positioned on top of the sash.

The word Netsuke is written in Japanese with two characters meaning “root” and “attached”. It is therefore said that earlier Netsuke was probably carved from root or precious wood. Netsuke designs and motifs reflected nature and the seasons, myths and mythical creatures, theatrical masks, the animals of the zodiac, scenes of everyday life, with many being humorous; others erotic. They were made of ivory, precious wood, or ceramics, and could be inlaid with metals, or painted or lacquered.

The Details: The front image of the piece offered shows a juxtaposition of the combination of the half-male face incarnation of Bosatsu and the half-female face of a Courtesan- Orian (a woman of pleasure). From one side you see Bosatsu with his elongated, expressive ear and textured hair with a topknot, (chonmage), which is a status symbol. On the other side is a female depiction again with textured hair and a hair ornament in the middle. From the top is seen the combination of both heads along with two Himotoshi openings for the attachment to the Sagemono. On the bottom of the piece is the hand of Orian reaching over to Bosatsu. The backside is self-explanatory showing, the copulating figures and containing the maker's mark on the cheek of Bosatsu. NOTE: The number of great carvers during this period is as uncountable as subjects, so many signatures are difficult to translate because of the age of the ideogram, and especially during the early stage of netsuke development.

Condition: Shown is exceptional and detailed carving, hand craftsmanship, and remains in excellent original condition with a wonderful patina.

NOTE: Bosatsu came to serve in a wide variety of different roles, as he was unable to escape the same foibles and illusions faced daily by common citizens. It was said that his aim was not to retire from the world into solitary meditation but to stay as a visual reminder to stimulate the minds of adults, and to live not away from the community, but with those he served.