Snake and Toad - 5582

Not signed, Japan

Snake and Toad
beginning 19th century
2,6x3,0x3,2 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5582

In this netsuke is represented a snake (ja, 蛇) with open jaws that holds in his coils a toad (gama, 蟇). The natural himotoshi is made by the space between the animals.

The subject identified in this netsuke can be interpreted in various ways. For example, the battle between these two animals, symbolises the eternal challenge between life and death. Furthermore  it can be considered as a variation of the sansukumi (三竦 literally "the three who are afraid of one another "), in which usually the snake, the toad and the snail are shown together. The sansukumi theme was favoured by the netsukeshi because of its symbolic meaning and because it allowed them to experiment the effects of contorsions and movements of the three animals. This subject was widespread in the 19th century. This netsuke can be dated to the beginning of the 1800s.

The snake is also the sixth animal of the chinese zodiac, it correspnds to the month of April and to the hours between nine and eleven in the morning. Snakes don’t love conflict, are diplomatic, however they don’t forget the injustices suffered.