Japan, mid 19th century - 5411

Not signed, Japan

Goat
mid 19th century
wood  
2,8x4,0x2,2 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5411



Wooden netsuke depicting a goat sitting on its rear paws, while the front ones are one folded and the other on the ground. The animal's head is turned to the left, slightly tilted upwards. The two holes of the himotoshi are between the back side and the base.

The goat is the eighth animal of the Chinese zodiac, it represents the sixth month and the time between one and three p.m. . In China it is a symbol of filial piety because it kneels when breastfeeding; furthermore, because its name is yang, it is put in relation with the homophone character that identifies the male principle. The goats are not native to Japan, they were introduced in the archipelago by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, perhaps for this reason, it is not always easy to understand if the artist has actually depicted a sheep, a goat or a ram.

In netsuke, goats appear as subjects at least since the eighteenth century: it is present in fact in the repertoire of Kyōto artists such as  Masanao and Okatomo, who were skilled in creating naturalistic images of this animal, particularly refined and perfect in every detail of the carving.

G.R.