Gyokuyosai - 5672

Gyokuyosai - Edo/Tokyo school

Kappa with Frog and Lotus Leaf
mid 19th century
2,0x3,2x3,8 cm
玉陽斎 (Gyokuyosai)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5672

A kappa, half-hidden by a lotus (hasu,蓮 ) leaf, is sticking out to feed a frog (kaeru, 蛙), sitting on the same leaf. The bended stem is useful as a passage for the cord (himo). Near by is carved  the signatureand Gyokuyosai (玉陽斎).

Kappa are imaginary creatures with frog legs, green scaly skin, a turtle shell on the back and a monkey or bird head. They are supposed to live next to the rivers. On their head there is a cavity, which contains an elixir of life, that makes the kappa able to live for a little time out of the water and to perform gestures that require a supe-human strength. If this liquid spills out, the kappa will be harmless. These special animals are also famous for their malicious tricks.

The author of this piece is Gyokuyosai Mitsuhina, who was active in Edo around mid 19th century. He worked in ivory, carving in particular figures,  dogs, shishi, fruits and insects. It is believed that he made also dolls. His netsuke are small, compact and more wide then tall. He was the teacher of the outstanding netsukeshi Kokusai.