The wolf (okami) with a skull is a common motif in netsuke art, found in the works of Tomotada and Yoshinaga among others. The skull originates either from the battlefield of Musashi or it is the wolf of Kozukahara, the execution grounds near Edo, both places being near Tokyo. The wolf is large as well as finely and expressively carved, the reddish wood polished to a shine and with black staining for contrast. “Okami” for wolf is homophonous to Okami, meaning “great god”, as the wolf used to be called out of respect for the animal. Natural himotoshi between the legs and through the skull. A powerful and early netsuke.
HEIGHT 3.6 cm, LENGTH 5.5 cm
Condition: One of the lower incisors is chipped otherwise good condition with minor wear and a good patina.
Provenance: British private collection with two valuations from Sotheby’s, by Neil K. Davey, dated 1974 & 1984, inventory no. 105.