End of 18th, early 19th century - 5479
The netsuke depicts the battle between a man, armed with a short sword, and a tiger, lying on its back and held to the ground. The two holes of the himotoshi, one larger than the other, are located on the back, between the folds of the man's dress. The piece could represent Bushō (武松), hero of the Chinese novel Suikoden (水滸傳), who killed a large tiger that had massacred 25 people, and that is often represented in netsuke art.
This netsuke, made between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, probably by an artist active in the Kyōto area, can be appreciated for the rare power of the composition, perfectly balanced, and the technical expertise with which it was made. The anonymous artist has managed to perfectly capture the moment in which the hero is about to strike the fatal blow, and the action of the attack reaches its peak of physical and psychological intensity.