Japan, late 18th -early 19th century - 5395
The netsuke represents a figure with a man's body and the head of a fox (kitsune, 狐). The character holds up his arms at his chest, while his hands are keeping a long bamboo stick. He wears a hood like the one used by priests, especially those belonging to the Tendai Buddhist school. The two holes of the himotoshi are on the back, at the height of the pelvis, the larger one placed in a lower position.
The fox is one of the most popular bakemono (化物) - in Japan beings able to change their appearance, usually evil creatures. The iconography of this netsuke is inspired by a drama of the Kyogen theatre which tells of a fox that could transform itself in a Hyakuzōsu priest, who used to appear to hunters to dissuade them from hunting foxes, warning them that these animals could take revenge assuming human form. Many netsuke representing this episode show Hyakuzosu with fox's muzzle and monk's robes, in other cases this character is accompanied by a farmer, and in others is shown the exact moment of transformation from fox to human.
Similar compositions characterize netsuke of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: our artwork is of a certain quality, dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.