Masanao - 5655
This okimono shows a puppy (inu, 犬), sitting on its rear paws, holding a drawstring with a tassel in his jaws; the pupils are inlaid in horn.
The dog is the eleventh animal of the zodiac; he represents the ninth month and the time between seven and nine o'clock in the evening. It is believed that dogs could neutralize the supernatural powers of cats, tanuki and foxes, animals which can transform themselves into humans and then return to their original state. Masanao (正直) signature is engraved under a rear paw.
This kind of subject was among the preferred by the netsukeshi belonging to the Ise-Yamada school established by Suzuki Masanao (1815-1890). They worked mainly in wood and had a very similar signature. It is difficult to ascribe this piece of the Lanfranchi collection to a specific Masanao.