Japan mid 19th century - 5436
The netsuke represents a Buddhist priest, standing, with his shoulders lightly curved; a straw hat tied around his neck while he holds in his hand one of his clogs (geta, 下駄). As suggested by Lanfranchi in 1962, the shoe is probably broken and the figure is trying to fix it. The two holes of the himotoshi, one larger than the other, are on the back, at the height of the pelvis. The inscription “F.533”, on a label on the back of the netsuke refers to the Fletcher collection, to which the piece belonged before it was acquired by Lanfranchi.
The artwork is of great intensity, because of the quality of the engraving, the finesse of the anatomic details, and the expressiveness of his face. The surface is lacquered, partly golden partly silver, and this confers to the object a striking dynamism, amplified by the red colour underneath. A very similar piece but without himotoshi, surely from in the same workshop, is located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where it is suggested that the priest is drunken.