Ryomin - 5455
In this elegant netsuke an actor performing the fox dance is depicted, wearing a stage costume with a tail and his face covered by a mask. The two himotoshi holes are on the back, close to the pelvis, one next to the other one. The signature Ryomin (陵民), with kakihan, is placed on the tail.
The scene could be inspired by a Kyogen play, where the fox personifies the role of the white fox (Inari Kitsune), the faithful messenger of Inari, or Daikiniten, divinity protector of harvests. But in the Japanese tradition also a demonic version of the fox (Hito kitsune) exists capable of assuming any possible shape, like that one of a perverted courtesan or to become invisible.
Ryomin, who often added his family name Ono (小埜 or 小野, small field) to his signature, was active in Edo/Tokyo during the second half of the 19th century. Around 1880 he was the head of a large workshop which produced netsuke and okimono in ivory mainly for export.
Many of his pupils included the characters "ono" e "ryo" in their names as is confirmed by their works in the Lanfranchi collection. Among pieces signed Ono Ryomin collected by Lanfranchi there are a netsuke and an okimono.