Tenaga - inv. 5704

not signed, Japan

mid 19th century
8,6 x 3,2 x 1,8 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5704

The netsuke, carved in horn, depicts Tenaga (手長), "Long Arms": sitting with the left knee raised, the character stretches up his very long upper limbs, and the left hand holds the wrist of his right arm whose hand is clenched into a fist, and the head is bent forward, his expression somewhat characterized, with eyes and mouth wide open. There are no holes for the passage of the cord (himo), which, however, could easily be inserted in the space between the arms of the character.

Normally Tenaga is shown with another figure: Ashinaga. They represent legendary people of the coast of Eastern China. In several representations Ashinaga, thanks to its long legs, can emerge easily from the waters of the rivers, while Tenaga sinks his long arms in search of fish, molluscs and crustaceans, food of which both are greedy. Due to this prerogative the couple is shown as an example to the benefits of peaceful cooperation. For composition, quality of material, carving sophistication and emotional intensity, this piece is one of the most interesting of the Lanfranchi collection.

Besides this piece the Lanfranchi collection includes two groups of Tenaga and Ashinaga and one of which is signed Ryoji


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