Toyu - 5642

Toyu, Japan

The Twelve Animals of the Zodiac
mid 19th century
2,4x4,3x3,5 cm
兎遊 (Toyu)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5642

This netsuke represents all together the twelve animals of the asian zodiac: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the boar. In the Japanese tradition a specific quality is attributed to each one of them. The eyes of some of the animals are inlays in horn whilst the eyes of the rabbit are in coral. The himotoshi is natural. The signature  Toyu (兎遊) is engraved in an oval reserve at the base of the netsuke.

There is no biographical information about Toyu; however some of his works are known, mainly depicting the animals of the zodiac. The first character of his name “to”, 兎, means rabbit, maybe it is a reference to the year in which he was born.