Nitta Yoshisada - 5698
The nestsuke probably represents Nitta Yoshisada (新田 義貞), a famous japanese chieftain, with moustache and an eboshi type hat (烏帽子), while he is playing the flute (yokobue,横笛); dressed in a tunic with wide falling sleeves, his left knee is lifted. He plays the flute to bewitch lady Koto no Naishi. The two holes of the himotoshi, one bigger than the other, are on the back side of the figure, near the waistline, both on a horizontal line.
This depiction could also be associated to another character of Japanese history, who is Fujiwara no Yasumasa, a musician famed for his artistry on the flute. One night while playing alone in the fields, he was discovered by a bandit. Captivated by the music, the outlaw was unable to attack what should have been an easy prey.
In this netsuke there is a refined use of ivory and wood, according to a practice used by the netsukeshi, in particolar in Edo/Tokyo area, between the end of the Edo period ( 1615- 1868) and at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912).