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Antique Japanese Carved Netsuke
Skull
Pill Box
Signature: unsigned. Circa: 18th Century

h. 1.4 in.(3.5cm), w. 1.4 in.(3.5cm), d. 1.2 in.(3cm)
Condition: age cracks, o.a. fair!


Estimate: $200-300
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Skull Pill Box Netsuke

Death is perhaps the deepest alchemy. This skull netsuke has a playful surrealistic quality. The eye sockets are asymmetrical, cavernous and of two different sizes. The cavity where the nose would lie is almost birdlike. The teeth are defined but irregular, suggesting a whimsical ruffian's dental hygiene. The shape of the skull suggests a warrior's helmet. With two plugs both on the top and bottom of the skull that at one time would have twisted out so that the interior of the skull could serve as a pill container. In Japan, symbolically, the skull was considered a good luck charm for gamblers and ruffians, those who played on the edges of fortune and society. Two himotoshi are indicated through a hole in the bottom and two in the teeth.

  
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