Grazing Horse, 18th century - inv. 5601

Not signed, Japan

Grazing Horse
18th century
ivory  
4,5x3,5x1,7 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti
Inv. 5601



Netsuke depicting a horse with its neck and head bent, while grazing with its hooves very close to each other. The two holes of the himotoshi, one larger than the other, are located on the back of the composition. The horse (uma, 馬) is the seventh animal of the oriental zodiac, it symbolizes strength, endurance and virility.

This model of the Lanfranchi collection exemplifies one of the oldest types of netsuke horse, whose origins can be traced back to the eighteenth century, a period during which various masters, especially among those living in Kyōto, had created similar objects. In fact it is very likely that this posture, loved because it allowed to take advantage of the ivory tusk's shape that by its nature tends to shrink near the tip, was first conceived by Tomotada, only to be later used  by Yoshinaga and his pupils, with results of great intensity, to whom a certain number of unsigned horse netsuke can be attributed.

G.R.