Diving Girl on Hamaguri - 5439

Not signed, Japan

Diving Girl on Hamaguri
18th century
ivory  
5,3 x 3 x 3 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti
Inv. 5439



In this netsuke a female diver (ama, 海女) is presented with the typical hay skirt while sitting on a clam (hamaguri, 蛤) with long and fluent wet hair reaching her shoulders; in the right hand she holds a sickle knife that she uses in fishing oysters. Of the two holes of the himotoshi, the larger one can be found under the shell, while the smaller one is on the back, at the level of her pelvis.
The theme of diving girls, charged with erotic suggestions, is stressed, in this case, by the presence of the mollusc, a common symbol of female genitalia that was developed by Japanese artists in the 18th century.
This is certainly one of the most precious objects of the entire Lanfranchi collection, remarkable for the originality of composition, the finesse in the details (especially for the grace with which the wet hair falls on her shoulders and belly) and the naturalness expressed on the young woman's face by the anonymous artist. The Lanfranchi collection has another nestuke depicting an ama. 

G.R.

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