Until 1st Aug, 2023

Buy it now


LOT 14 - NE0423

Buy now for €32,500.00

Lot details

Japan, 18th century, Edo period (1615-1868)

Finely carved with the immortal standing with one hand held behind his back, the other holding the tip of a ken sword. He is wearing long flowing robes with skillfully carved and darkly stained folds, opening in front to reveal his ribs and belly. His well-carved face with a cheerful expression as he laughs at the two-horned three-clawed dragon sinuously writhing around his body, looking up toward the sword tip. The back with asymmetrical himotoshi.

HEIGHT 8.7 cm

Condition: Very good condition, appealingly worn, one foot with old restoration to the toes.
Provenance: Ex-collection Joe Kurstin. Dr. M. Joseph ‘Joe’ Kurstin (1931-2021) was a prominent Miami ophthalmologist who arguably built one of the greatest netsuke collections of all time. He was known by netsuke and inro lovers worldwide and made many lifelong friends in this tight-knit community. He published several books and articles on the subject and generously lent his collection for exhibitions at the Yale University Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Epcot Center at Disney World, and The Tobacco and Salt Museum, Tokyo.

Ryo Tohin is the Japanese name for the Daoist immortal Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology. He is often pictured riding on a cloud or a dragon as a reference to the legend that Ryo Tohin used his famous sword to subdue a dragon. He is also frequently depicted crossing water on his sword. The present netsuke depicts him holding the tip of a ken sword, which relates to depictions of male dragons with tail tips in the form of swords or spears. It thus appears that the immortal has stolen the tip of the dragon’s tail and is now taunting the beast with it. It is also interesting to note that the immortal’s right hand is not seen, shrouded in his robe behind his back, and perhaps he is also hiding a tama pearl from the poor dragon.

Literature comparison:
Compare a painted wood netsuke by Shuzan, depicting the same subject, described as “a warrior holding a gem in the left hand, a sword in the right, defying a dragon”, illustrated in Joly, Henri L. (1966) The W. L. Behrens Collection, Part 1, Netsuke, pl. XIII, no. 675.


How to Buy Online

You must log in or create an online account in order to buy items from the shop.

Click the red 'Buy it Now' button to buy this item. You will then be able to download your invoice and receive instructions about how to pay. Prices include Buyer's Premium. 

If you would like to buy multiple items at the same time, add the items you want to your cart. You will then be able to check out with multiple items simultaneously.

Items in your cart are not reserved. Please complete the purchase process promptly to secure the items.

How to Buy Offline

If you would like to buy one of these items outside of the online shop, please contact us at office@zacke.at or +43 (1) 532 04 52.

Our Terms and Conditions

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep our auctions fair and transparent, we encourage you to read our terms and conditions thoroughly. We urge you to read through §34-50) to ensure you understand them. These terms are specifically designed to protect all serious and committed buyers from bidding against non-payers who attempt to inflate prices without the intent of paying their auction bills.

For further reading about non-payers at auction, go here: https://www.zacke.at/aboutnonpayers/.

The main points include the following:

  • Bidders must complete their due diligence and clarify all questions about the objects before the auction. After the auction, Zacke will not answer questions from bidders unless the purchase price has been paid in full. Of course, this does not apply to questions concerning shipping, insurance, customs, etc.
  • A sale cancellation of any kind after the fall of the hammer is not possible. The only exception to this fundamental rule is our guarantee of authenticity [the Guarantee].
  • A Guarantee Claim, however, can only be raised after the purchase price has been paid in full by the buyer and within 45 days after the auction day.

If you have any questions about our policies, please get in touch with us at office@zacke.at.

By placing a bid, you agree to our Terms of Auction and Terms and Conditions.