Japan, late 19th century
A charming netsuke worked in lustrous gold kinji lacquer with red and black highlights, depicting a fat boy holding a huge hyotan (double gourd) and trying to tame a black-lacquered Namazu catfish underneath. Two himotoshi through the boy’s back.
HEIGHT 3.6 cm
Condition: Very good condition with minor traces of use and wear to lacquer.
Legend has it that certain types of catfish (namazu) are responsible for the earthquakes that plague the islands of Japan. When aroused, these creatures would contort their bodies in such a way that gigantic tremors shook the area for miles and miles. The Shinto deity Kadori Myojin usually attempts to prevent such catastrophes with the help of his magic gourd.
Gosho ningyo are characterized by their chubby figures, fair skin, small hands and legs, their large heads, and simple eyes and noses. Their history goes back some 400 years, when they were treasured in the Imperial court. Over time they became expressions of hope for happiness and prosperity in life.
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