Until 1st Aug, 2023

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Lot 260 - NE0423

Buy now for €2,600.00

Lot details

Attributed to Yamaji Mitsuyuki, unsigned
Japan, 19th century, Edo period (1615-1868)

Published: Bushell, Raymond (1985), Netsuke Masks, pl. 97.

Finely carved with a pained expression as the old man cries out with the mouth wide open, his hair tied over the brow and his long beard, which is usually applied with horsehair to the actual mask, trailing to one side, all neatly incised and skillfully stained with sumi-e. The reverse with a broad himotoshi bar pierced both vertically and horizontally, the horizontal cord hole with a chrysanthemum design. The ivory beautifully stained and bearing a warm patina.

HEIGHT 4.5 cm

Condition: Very good condition with minor wear and few tiny age cracks. Rich honey-yellow patina.
Provenance: Ex-collection Raymond Bushell. Christie’s, The Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection of Netsuke, Part II, 18 October 1988, New York, lot 107. Ex-collection Bluette H. Kirchhoff, acquired from the above. Bonhams, The Bluette H. Kirchhoff Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono, 16 September 2009, New York, lot 2133. European collection P. Jacquesson, acquired from the above.

The term Jo denotes a large corpus of indigenous masks that portray old men. These masks were worn, and still are, for a myriad of agrarian fertility rituals, rites for propitiating the gods of nature, and ceremonies associated with folk festivals. They usually represent an aged deity or an apotheosized elder. In the early days of Noh, there was only a single type of Jo mask which satisfied the need for any play requiring the role of an old man, but as new plays were written there was an increasing need for a variety of masks. The chief characteristic of Jo masks is the locks of hair brought up from the sides and tied in a type of bow, or double loop, just above the forehead.

Museum comparison:
Compare a related ivory netsuke by Yamaji Mitsuyuki, with a similar pained expression and open mouth, formerly in the collection of Raymond Bushell and now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, accession number AC1998.249.257.

Auction comparison:
Compare to a closely related ivory netsuke of Oiwa, by Mitsuyki, at Zacke, Fine Netsuke & Sagemono, 4 November 2022, Vienna, lot 85 (sold for 4,860 EUR).

Trade Certificate: The trade certificate for the sale of this lot within the EU has been granted (permit number AT 23-B-0097).


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