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Identification Help

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UPenn
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Identification Help

Postby UPenn » Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:34 pm

Hi All, this is my third thread, I got wonderful advice on a purchase and on a repair, now trying my luck on an identification.

I discovered an ivory Okimono on my father's shelf, it's pretty but we know nothing about it and we have no idea how to research the signature.

I know there are people here with books and Japanese know-how so if any of you have a minute I'd really appreciate any info on this one. We're not looking to part with it, just to know better it is.

Thank you!!
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dads_monkey1.jpg
dads_monkey2.jpg
dads_monkey3.jpg
My name is Greg, life is good, code green.

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Oishii
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Re: Identification Help

Postby Oishii » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:21 pm

Hi Gregory,

Robert O. Kinsey writes about the subject of pieces like yours in an article about monkey netsuke in Kenkyukai Journal 12/2 : 21-22 :

"For most netsuke enthusiasts, one of the most delightful portrayals of a monkey shows the seated animal , clad in a happi coat and sometimes wearing spectacles, carefully examining a netsuke-ojime-inro (or tonkotsu) ensemble. The monkey is in the process of discovering that the netsuke depicts a monkey - his kind of people ! Essentially the same design has appeared a dozen times in paintings, netsuke and kimono, and the silk-paintings by Yamaguchi Soken (1759-1818) appears to be the forerunner.
Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 00.03.16.png

The silk painting of this same subject by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891) is one of the best known representations and it is titled "Monkey Posing as a Collector".
Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 00.04.47.png

The Honolulu Academy of Arts has dated Zeshin’s painting at about 1835. Except for the absence of spectacles and a different happi coat design, the kagamibuta netsuke (Figure 16 ) appears to be almost an exact copy of Zeshin’s painting.
Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 00.06.08.png


Your okimono seems to be a post-Edo-period work. The netsuke that the monkey is inspecting looks like a frog ?

We have not been able to trace the signature yet (which is upside down on your picture btw), but one of our Japanese friends may help us here.
On top the kanji we see the character (o / dai / tai) which usually means big.
Below that, one part of the signature looks familiar : the two kanji characters usually forming the name "Shu-zan".
(shu)
(yama / san / zan)
Last edited by Oishii on Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Jan

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chonchon
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Re: Identification Help

Postby chonchon » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:43 am

Jan, the Yama is actually the top of the next character, an older form of Mine/Ho, ie 峯 for 峰. So the Mei reads Shuho.
The little 大 in a diamond suggests to me a shop or museum initial symbol, like the Dai of 大丸 Daimaru, but possible standing for Osaka 大阪.
What is the material, and have the specs been mended on one side? These are typical Edo-Period glasses, available only to the rich or scholarly, and held on by strings to the ears.
Last edited by chonchon on Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
Piers

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UPenn
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Re: Identification Help

Postby UPenn » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:23 am

Thank you Jan and Piers that's really good info!
That's so cool that the monkey is inspecting a Netsuke! I think yes it does look like a frog or toad, perhaps sitting on a platform.
The material is Ivory, I'm pretty sure.
I see what you mean about the glasses, I guess the loop on the right side is broken off and missing.
I'll have to examine it more closely when I have it in my hands again.
But sounds like it might be a museum souvenir or something like that.
Unfortunately he has no recollection where he got it, he's a retired antiques dealer, he has quite a bit of ivory left over that he could not sell because of the evolving legal situation.
Thanks again, please let me know if you find any other info, it's greatly appreciated, and fun!
My name is Greg, life is good, code green.

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chonchon
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Re: Identification Help

Postby chonchon » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:51 am

Yes, Greg, it does look like ivory underneath. Perhaps other remedial work has been undertaken up top that sometimes gives a sort of plaster effect, such as in the smaller monkey's top thumb.
What size is this? I have seen the subject in Netsuke but not consciously in Okimono. Such a clever concept.
Piers

Size is something.

Thomas1
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Re: Identification Help

Postby Thomas1 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:05 pm

Hi Piers
I have an Okimono about 6 inches with a similar theme. He is inspecting a monkey netsuke.
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UPenn
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Re: Identification Help

Postby UPenn » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:11 pm

chonchon wrote:Yes, Greg, it does look like ivory underneath. Perhaps other remedial work has been undertaken up top that sometimes gives a sort of plaster effect, such as in the smaller monkey's top thumb.
What size is this? I have seen the subject in Netsuke but not consciously in Okimono. Such a clever concept.

Hmm maybe you're right it does look a bit shiny in places, could be in need of the hot needle test, maybe it's actually plastic! I do see some grain in the bottom though, so hopefully not.
My name is Greg, life is good, code green.

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souldeep
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Re: Identification Help

Postby souldeep » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:58 am

Thomas1 wrote:Hi Piers
I have an Okimono about 6 inches with a similar theme. He is inspecting a monkey netsuke.

I like this Thomas. I can't help feeling there is something about the tradition of Komei in the hairwork. Is he signed?

Is the netsuke depicting a daruma?
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.

Thomas1
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Re: Identification Help

Postby Thomas1 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:06 pm

Hi Martyn
It is signed but I was told that it means made by a clever person.
The netsuke he is holding is a monkey. I think it’s an amazing carving for being so very tiny. I included pictures of both.
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chonchon
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Re: Identification Help

Postby chonchon » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:11 pm

Thomas he's great isn't he/she? The Mei reads a) Saijin if you see it as a word meaning wise or learned, with long classical allusions, or b) Saito, as in a Japanese male name.
Piers

Size is something.


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