Japan, II half 19th century - 5638
Netsuke-okimono representing a turtle on a lotus flower; on the lower side, coinciding with the buds opening, a pseudo-inscription is carved, that confers to the object a most likely purpose of a seal. The characters engraved on the nesuke-okimono recall the so called genji-mon (源氏紋) a set of fifty-four geometric signs, each of which identifies a chapter of the Tale of Genji (源氏 物語), "The novel of the shining prince", the most famous Japanese literary work, written at the beginning of the 11th century by Murasaki Shikibu, mentioned in all the fields of Japanese art.
The turtle (kame, 亀) because of its very long life is a symbol of longevity. It also symbolises fertility and is often depicted with its offspring. It is considered a talisman to obtain a numerous progeny. Images of turtles were traditionally donated in various festive occasions.