Gyokushu - 5727
This okimono shows, standing in the centre, Okame that extracts from a wooden measure box for rice (masu, 枡) dried beans, and then launches them towards the four oni (demons (鬼) that surround her in the rite oni-yarai (儺, rite celebrated on the 3rd of February in which the throwing of beans symbolically meant getting rid of evil spirits and symbolised hope for a happy future; it is also known as Setsubun, 節分). One of the oni, targeted by Okame, protects himself from the beans with a straw hat, while others observe the scene somewhat worried; in this composition also some other object appears, including a folding fan and a ju-i sceptre. On the base of the okimono it is carved the signature Gyokushu.
Gyokushu was a skilled artist who produced netsuke and okimono mainly for export. Active in Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, favoured among his subjects, groups of figures in which the demons were inevitable. In this regard see the other netsuke by the same author in the Lanfranchi collection.
In the Lanfranchi collection the oniyarai theme is also dealt with in a group of two oni hiding from the launch of beans and in a wooden netsuke in which only Okame appears.