Ox, 18th century - 5644
The netsuke represents an ox (ushi, 牛) lying on the ground with his head turned left; the eyes are made of amber inlays and the pupils are made in horn. The left rear paw has been reattached during a restoration. The two holes of the himotoshi, one larger than the other, are on the lower side of the composition.
The style that characterizes this netsuke is similar to Tomotada’s, an artist active in the 18th century. He was famous for netsuke depicting recumbent oxes. He was so popular that during his life there were numerous copies of his works. The ox (or the bull) is the second animal of the zodiac; it represents the twelfth month and the hour between one and three at night. It is very much appreciated by Zen Buddhism that compares its stoicism to the silence of meditation. For another representation of the ox in the Lanfranchi collection see the netsuke by Rakuzan.