Sessai - 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.