Masatomo - 5645

Masatomo, Japan

Monkey with Persimmon
late 19th - early 20th century
3,5x2,8x3,0 cm
正友 (Masatomo)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5645

Okimono portraying a monkey (saru, 猿) sitting on its rear paws and dressed up with a vest decorated on its back with a geometrical pattern. The monkey holds between its paws a persimmon on which there is an insect. 
The number “176”,  printed on a tag on the back of the object, refers to a previous collection to which it belonged.

The subject could allude to the Japanese popular  tale of “The battle between the mokey and the crab” (Saru kani kassen, 猿蟹合戦), ), in which it is told of a monkey that mocks a crab by exchanging a rice ball with a persimmon seed. The crab is killed but eventually it is revenged by its offspring.

On the lower part of the monkey's vest  the signature Masatomo (正友) is carved.  The artist which created this piece is not the Masatomo of Osaka active in the 18th century. Similar compositions were the favourite subject of netsukeshi that worked for the export market at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.