Ryokoku - 5396

Ryokoku, Japan

The Seven Gods of Fortune on the Takarabune Ship
mid 19th century
4,9x4,5x5,7 cm
良谷 (Ryokoku)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5396

Netsuke depicting the Seven Gods of Fortune on the Boat of Treasures, some deities are seated, while others are standing. The boat is steered by Bishamonten that observes the horizon from the bow. On the unfurled sail the ideogram takara (宝, treasure) is engraved. The two holes of the himotoshi, one larger than the other, lie at the centre of the lower side of the composition and in their proximity is engraved the signature Ryokoku (良 谷).

In Japan, in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, deities that could guarantee an improvement of earthly life, rather than the salvation of the soul or the completion of spirituality as it was for Buddhism and Shintoism, became very popular. Thus new gods as the Seven Gods of Fortune (Shichifukujin), a group of characters of heterogeneous origin, which were appreciated for their kindness and serenity, obtained great popularity.

Ryokoku was an artist, active in the mid-nineteenth century, of whom are known very few pieces, including another netsuke similar to this one from the Lanfranchi collection.