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Ɏ KIHODO MASAKA: A SUPERB IVORY OKIMONO-NETSUKE OF A RAT CATCHER

By Kihodo Masaka, signed Masaka 正香 to 刀
Japan, Osaka, c. 1880, Meiji period (1868-1912)

Very finely carved as a disappointed rat catcher, wearing only a loincloth, kneeling and holding a box down, looking backwards as the escaped rat clambers over his back. His expression is masterfully worked, brilliantly capturing his anger and disappointment, while at the same time vilifying him. Note the extremely well carved bony fingers and toes, as well as the muscular and emaciated body. The pupils of both are inlaid in buffalo horn. Signed underneath the loincloth MASAKA to (carved).

LENGTH 5.7 cm, HEIGHT 4 cm

Condition: Superb condition.

Kihodo Masaka is regarded as one of the greatest carvers of netsuke and okimono, particularly during the Meiji period. He was favored by the aristocracy and Japanese royalty, one of his works (a cake plate decorated with a bag of hundred rats) was even purchased by the Meiji emperor in 1889.

Auction comparison:
Compare to an okimono netsuke by Kihodo Masakazu (Masaka’s master), sold at Zacke, Fine Japanese and Netsuke Art, 22 June 2019, Vienna, lot 317 (sold for 5,256 EUR). Also compare to an ivory netsuke of an oni as a rat catcher by Kihodo Masaka, offered at Sotheby’s, Japanese Works of Art, Prints and Paintings, 15 November 2001, London, lot 178 (bought in at 7,500-8,500 GBP).

Literature comparison:
A very similar okimono is illustrated in Barry Davies Oriental Art (1990) Netsuke Classics, no. 16.
For an excellent article by Bernard Hurtig on Masaka see INCS, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 28-39.

Starting price
€3,000
Estimate
€6,000
 

A buyer’s premium of 26.40% (including VAT) applies to the hammer price of this lot if your bid is successful.

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By Kihodo Masaka, signed Masaka 正香 to 刀
Japan, Osaka, c. 1880, Meiji period (1868-1912)

Very finely carved as a disappointed rat catcher, wearing only a loincloth, kneeling and holding a box down, looking backwards as the escaped rat clambers over his back. His expression is masterfully worked, brilliantly capturing his anger and disappointment, while at the same time vilifying him. Note the extremely well carved bony fingers and toes, as well as the muscular and emaciated body. The pupils of both are inlaid in buffalo horn. Signed underneath the loincloth MASAKA to (carved).

LENGTH 5.7 cm, HEIGHT 4 cm

Condition: Superb condition.

Kihodo Masaka is regarded as one of the greatest carvers of netsuke and okimono, particularly during the Meiji period. He was favored by the aristocracy and Japanese royalty, one of his works (a cake plate decorated with a bag of hundred rats) was even purchased by the Meiji emperor in 1889.

Auction comparison:
Compare to an okimono netsuke by Kihodo Masakazu (Masaka’s master), sold at Zacke, Fine Japanese and Netsuke Art, 22 June 2019, Vienna, lot 317 (sold for 5,256 EUR). Also compare to an ivory netsuke of an oni as a rat catcher by Kihodo Masaka, offered at Sotheby’s, Japanese Works of Art, Prints and Paintings, 15 November 2001, London, lot 178 (bought in at 7,500-8,500 GBP).

Literature comparison:
A very similar okimono is illustrated in Barry Davies Oriental Art (1990) Netsuke Classics, no. 16.
For an excellent article by Bernard Hurtig on Masaka see INCS, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 28-39.

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Preview:

You may view objects in this auction in our gallery from 6 April to 16 April, 2021. We are open Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM CET, as well as by appointment.

 

Auction: Fine Netsuke & Sagemono, Fri, 16th Apr 2021


ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE A BEACH HOLIDAY IN EDO JAPAN?

Perhaps one would encounter a similar scene as on our cover image. We hope that ‘diving’ into our catalog may evoke a similar feeling. After all, you will encounter all kinds of creatures, odd beings, and legendary figures in here, offering a small glimpse into a world which has inspired Japanese art throughout the centuries. It is truly wonderous how one can travel back in time by holding a netsuke in the hand, and while many of you will not be able to handle them until after the sale, we hope that our descriptions and photography may compensate for the time being. Now without further ado, please do DIVE IN!

 

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