Sessai - 5712

Sessai - Echizen school

Lotus Flower Stem with Two Crabs
mid 19th century
18,0x2,5x1,8 cm
法橋 雪斎 (Hokkyo Sessai)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5712

This sashi (差, stab) netsuke, a category of elongated shape, made of  persimmon wood depicts a part of a lotus flower stem with two crabs, one in the middle and one at the far end.  There are no  holes for the passage of the cord (himo), which can be knotted anywhere in the composition. Along the stem is engraved  the signature: Hokkyo Sessai (法橋  雪斎).
Sessai  is the artist name and Hokkyo an honorific Buddhist title.

According to an old legend, Japanese crabs (kani, 蟹) were the  ghosts of the Taira clan members, won in a bloody war by Minamoto. Kani also means  “brave and valiant ”. This is why the word “crab” is a synonym of samurai. Sessai (1820-1879) was a very creative artist, who worked for the lord of Echizen.