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Subject of this piece

What subject or legend is depicted in your netsuke or sagemono?
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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby tanukisan » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:08 pm

Rather than Shoki and an oni it could be HAKUHAKU or KAKUBAKU, who was a learned Chinese sage, KWOH P'OH, who died in 324 A.D. He had received from his master nine books of Taoist magic and philosophic knowledge kept in a green bag. He is depicted travelling in the company of a demon.


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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby KPR » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:58 pm

Roy wrote:Shoki and Oni was the first thought that crossed my mind. But the hat is different from Shoki and this Oni seems to have one horn. ....

One or two horns is not important. Decisive are the large earlobes that point to a deity.

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby Operafan » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:55 pm

I believe that it is indeed Daikoku, as Dough wrote. He has, as Klaus wrote, large earlobes, as a deity should ;) .
And in his right hand, he is holding a daikon raddish.

In the book 'Japanese Fairy World - Stories from the Wonder-Lore of Japan' there is a chapter about Daikoku and the Oni. The story does not match exactly the image of this netsuke, but who said that 'Hidemasa' could not use his imagination... ... ni&f=false

By the way, the Kindle version of the book is available on for free :) .

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby dougsanders » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:36 pm

I'm sorry, but how on earth is that a daikon radish? :D


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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby Hiryu » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:51 pm

Last edited by Hiryu on Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby Roy » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:18 am

Thanks a lot everyone for sharing your thoughts. Yes Tadamori and oil thief came to mind too especially after looking at the languishing figure under the foot, however the big earlobes truly point to a deity. Could the Chinese scholar be depicted with big earlobes as well, then him traveling in company of a small demon could explain the story.

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby carlomagno » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:21 am

Too much elaborate for a simple motif. Daikoku and the chief oni 8-) 8-) 8-)
Nec spe nec metu

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby AFNetsuke » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:41 am

The bottom character looks superficially like the Oil Thief but seems to be an Oni. Note the three fingered hand and horn. But why is he holding a tattered fan? More likely would be a tattered hat that shelters him from thrown beans at the New Year. The top character reminds us of Shoki the demon queller but has a face and large earlobes like one of the 7 Lucky Gods. He is thrashing the oni with a branch of bamboo. A strange association, as holly is typically a plant whose branches are put over thresholds of homes to keep oni out after being dispelled at Setsubun. It is a perplexing bunch of familiar things that don't normally go together. Was the artist bored or frustrated with his pupil status and decided to show his ability to carve many recognizable subjects all rolled into a single piece??? Or am I the crazy one? :lol:
Addendum: I wrote the above before there was a second page of responses. Guess I am crazy.
Last edited by AFNetsuke on Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby dougsanders » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:09 pm

No one has mentioned the red and possibly green (the photos are a little blurry to determine) ink used in the engraved decoration of the clothing. This is often an indicator,for me at least, of spurious origin. Thoughts?

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Re: Subject of this piece

Postby souldeep » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:50 pm

Roy wrote:Hi
I recently came across this nice looking netsuke. The carving and the condition looks pretty good. However the subject looks unfamiliar to me. Would really appreciate if you could share your thoughts on what the subject could be, for sure it is not a very common one in my limited experience.
Many thanks

Hi Roy and welcome to the forum :)

It's hard to tell from your photos, but if this is from the Hidemasa line, it is a late work.

Your model appears to be loosely based on an earlier Hidemasa model of Shoki and Oni. Below an example from the Bushell book for your comparison and interest. I believe this piece now resides with one of our members (they may be willing to share better images).

Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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