Ryoji - 5520
This netsuke depicts three oni (demons,鬼) – one of which is playing the shamisen (三味線), a japanese musical intrument with three chords – sitting on a mask characterised by a prominent nose.
The mask could represent Sojobo, the oldest and most powerful of the tengu (天狗), usually shown with a very long nose. Lanfranchi insted identified it with the representation of Saruta Hiko, a Shintoist deity with a very long nose and in some cases as long as seven arms. Often, Saruta Hiko is depicted in netsuke with Okame that holds him from his long nose. The signature Ryoji can be found on the back of the mask.
Ryoji, active in the second half of the 19th century, was a member of Ono Ryomin’s workshop, an important artist of the Edo/Tokyo school. Sometimes he signed as Ono Ryoji (小埜 凌次). His production was mainly for export. In the Lanfranchi collection there is another netsuke, having as subject Ashinaga and Tenaga, with a rather different character style of Ryoji's (凌次) signature.