Shounsai - 5714
The netsuke represents Benten, the only female divinity amongst the Seven Gods of Fortune. She wears a wide tunic in Chinese style, and is sitting on a low wooden stool while she plays the biwa (琵琶), a Chinese musical instrument similar to the occidental lute, with the plectrum . On a high wood stand, on her left, there is a bronze incense burner. The two himotoshi hole are on the back next to her waistline at the same height; they have a different diameter. The signature Shounsai (升雲齋) is engraved on the base in an oval shaped reserve.
The author of this netsuke was active in Edo (old name of Tokyo) around 1820 and 1860. His most common signature was Joryu, but he also used the art name Shounsai. He worked mainly in ivory, engraving especially characters from Chinese and Japanese history, or scenes of everyday life. His figures are small with oblong faces, high eyebrows and elegantly curved eyes. The garments of the characters are usually extremely well defined.