Japan, II half 19th century - 5457

Not signed, Japan

II half 19th century
11,3x2,1x1,9 cm
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5457

This nestuke depicts a standing male character, probably blind, his torso naked and the legs  covered down to the ankles by a fabric. In his hands he holds a long Buddhist rosary, while on the right side, clipped to the belt, hangs an oblong handbag; over his right shoulder he holds a larger bag. His long straight hair is loose on his neck, and the face, slightly tilted to the right, shows an ecstatic expression, his mouth open and his eyes shut. All these elements lead to the hypothesis that it is the depiction of a rakan (disciple of the Buddha). The himotoshi holes  are on the back, near the pelvis: one beside the other, of different size. The entire figure is coated with lacquer applied on most of the surface with the red-black Negoro technique, to which is added a layer of green lacquer for the kilt and widespread touches of gilding to give light to the relief carving.
Lanfranchi attributed this netsuke to the production of Yoshimura Shuzan school. However, the work has no features that could confirm this hypothesis. It can be dated to the second half of the nineteenth century, a period in which many artists devoted themselves to the production of painted wooden netsukes. These were partly inspired by the works of Yoshimura Shuzan, partly by dolls (ningyo, 人形) produced for example in  Nara area, where Morikawa Toen (1820-1894) resided, known in his day because of his skill in making dolls and wooden netsuke painted with bright colours, depicting especially actors of No theatre.