Masatsugu - 5533

Masatsugu - Japan

Choryo and Kosekiko
second half 19th century
6,3x4,0x3,7 cm
正次 (Masatsugu)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5533

This okimono-netsuke depicts a complex scene where Kosekiko is riding a horse while crossing a bridge; he holds the reins with his left hand, while with the right he shows an handwritten roll. On his left, half sunk in the water and not caring about the dragon which is nearby, Choryo holds a shoe in his hand. The signature Masatsugu (正次) is carved under the base of the piece in an oval reserve, near the himotoshi holes.

Chorio, together with Chinpei and Kanshin, was one of the three famous generals of the Han dynasty. A legend tells that Choryo during a travel, crossing a bridge, met a poor old man, sad because of the loss of a sandal fallen in the water infested by a dangerous dragon. Choryo, forgetting his high grade, plunged in the water, picked up the sandal and gave it back to the old man. This revealed himself as the wise Kosekiko, prince of the yellow stone, who rewarded Choryo giving him an important manuscript with military information and strategies that made Choryo the most powerful man of the country.

Masatsugu is one of the most common signatures found on netsuke and okimono carved during the 19th century. The style of this piece of the Lanfranchi collection places it in the production of the Meiji period (1868 -1912) but does not allow us to attribute it to a specific artist.