This exceptional wood netsuke shows a monkey (saru) right before taking a bite into a persimmon (kaki) while the fruit is still attached to an exquisitely carved branch, with further fruits, which the monkey holds in front of his body between his legs. The monkey is leaning forward holding the kaki in both of its hands and placing its teeth on it. His mouth opens wide and his lip arches over the fruit – the resulting facial contortion is achieved masterfully. The expression of the monkey is enhanced by glowing eyes of pale and dark horn. The wood is well-worn and smooth to the touch showing a shimmering reddish-brown tone. The underside reveals the male gender of the monkey. Natural himotoshi through one leg and the signature TOMOKAZU 友一 in a rounded reserve on one of the thighs.
HEIGHT 3.8 cm
Condition: Excellent condition with a very appealing patina; one eye is replaced.
Provenance: The Gabor Wilhelm Collection.
Tomokazu from Gifu is regarded as one of the greatest animal netsuke carvers of all time and often lived in seclusion to study the animals very closely and sometimes took as much as one or two months to finish a carving. The monkey is the ninth sign of the Japanese Zodiac and used to be considered to dispel ill will, ease births and be a messenger to the gods.
Auction comparison: A near identical netsuke was sold at Bonhams, The James A. Rose Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono, 17 September 2013, New York, lot 2019.