Sukemitsu - 5592

Sukemitsu, Japan

Hare
second half 19th century
ivory  
2,0x2,8x2,2 cm
signature
祐光 (Sukemitsu)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5592



Netsuke depicting a hare crouched on its paws, with its long ears fully extended toward its back, its eyes are coral inlays. The two holes of the himotoshi, very close to each other, are located on the lower side, near the rear paws. On the left rear paw there is the signature Sukemitsu (佑光).
Similar netsuke were the speciality of netsukeshi active in Kyōto in the late 18th and early 19th century, like Masanao, Okatomo and their followers. The author of this piece of the Lanfranchi collection was certainly active in a later period and we have no biographical information about him .

The hare (usagi, 兎) is the fourth animal of the zodiac, it represents the second month and the time between five and seven in the morning. In Japan there is not a real distinction between hare and rabbit. Considered as a night animal, in Japanese tradition it is believed that the hare sits on the moon to grind the rice to be used in the preparation of sweets named mochi (餅). According to another ancient superstition, the fur of these animals would become white after a thousand years; therefore, both in China and Japan, a white hare with red eyes symbolises longevity.

G.R.