Kazumasa - 5637
The netsuke depicts a group of mice (nezumi, 鼠) in an abalone(awabi, 鮑) half shell, on which several breathing holes are visible. The rat eyes are inlaid with dark horn. The two himotoshi holes are on the back of the shell, nearby is carved the signature Kazumasa (一正).
The mouse is the first animal of the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes the ability for leadership, the commitment and the capacity to organize. It represents the last month of the year and the hours between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. It is often associated to Daikoku, the god of fortune.
The author of this piece of the Lanfranchi collection is not recorded in the main indexes of known artists, he was probably active in the second half of the 19th century.