By Matsuki Hokei, signed Hokei 豊慶
Japan, Tokyo, late 19th century, Meiji period (1868-1912)
Published: Bulletin Franco Japonais, no. 143, Masques Extraordinaires, January 2020, p. 18, no. 22.
A finely carved mask netsuke, lacquered in tsuishu red, depicting Okina (Old Man), carved in characteristic manner to show the lower jaw and chin as separate from the rest of the mask and attached with two straps. The nostrils and eyes are pierced. The interior incised with the signature HOKEI.
HEIGHT 2.8 cm
Condition: Excellent condition with only minor surface wear.
Provenance: European collection P. Jacquesson, acquired from Robert Fleischel on 15 March 2006.
This popular mask is worn in the Noh play Okina. The character here is called Hakushikijo, literally ‘white-colored old man’. He is distinguished from the black-colored old-man mask worn in the Sambaso dance.
On Matsuki Hokei, Neil K. Davey writes, “Perhaps the most famous and certainly one of the finest workers in tsuishu (carved red lacquer). His figures in this material are comparable to the finest wood and ivory Netsuke, the various layers of lacquer used to denote highlights in some cases. The work is always well finished. He taught several pupils whose work was similar but lacking the finesse of the master.”
Compare a related but considerably larger tsuishu mask netsuke of Emma-O by the same carver at Zacke, Fine Netsuke & Sagemono, 25 September 2020, lot 223 (sold for 6,100 EUR).
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