The poetess is standing and holding a cane and tattered hat in front of her. Her expression is very well carved, signifying wisdom but also showing her great age, with masterfully carved facial features and wrinkles. She is wearing a kimono, revealing her chest and emaciated rib cage. Her long hair is finely carved and tied at the back. Another fine detail is her tattered robe, with a torn section at the bottom flowing downwards to her feet. Large and worn himotoshi through the backside, separated by her obi, above the signature MASAYOSHI 政蘆. It is evident that this netsuke was used and worn, very much fitting to this subject of the old and worn-out Komachi.
HEIGHT 9 cm
Condition: Good, worn condition. One thin age crack by the side and small nicks, adding very much to the appeal of the netsuke. The himotoshi are worn.
Provenance: The Gabor Wilhelm Collection.
Ono no Komachi was one of the great six poets of the ninth century (also referred to as the Rokkasen). Not only was she an incredibly talented poetess, but also celebrated for her beauty and vibrancy in her youth. Later in life she became old and is often depicted begging for foodon the side of the road. Her beauty had faded, and she became a symbol for the evanescence of life. It is unclear which Masayoshi is the carver of this netsuke. It is possible that this is an early work of the famous metalworker Iwama Masayoshi (1763-1837), due to the peculiarity of the Masa 政 kanji.