Sold To Private Collection
Stained & Lacquered
Artist Signature: Gessho. Late 19th Century
Raymond Bushell Collectors' Netsuke, pg.55
h. 2.75 in.(9.5cm.),
w. 1 in.(2.5cm.), d. 0.5 in.(1.2cm.)
Condition: break w. restoration
(Long Legs) and Tenaga (Long Arms) are mythical fishermen originated in India.
The story of these peculiar looking people came to Japan by way of Chinese mythology.
As in this netsuke, Ashinaga and Tenaga are typically depicted together; with
Ashinaga wades into deep water. Tenaga sitting on Ashinaga's back or shoulder,
reaching down with his long arms to catch a fish. Ashinaga and Tenaga are symbols
of success in co-operation.
Located on the foot of this netsuke, enclosed in the reserve is an incised
signature of the famous carver Gessho. A wood netsuke of Ashinaga and Tenaga of
uncanny similarity by the same artist is found published in the book "Collector's
Netsuke" by R. Bushell. However, the quality of this ivory netsuke appears much
newer, and Gessho is believed to have worked exclusively in wood. Though undoubtedly
elegant, it lacks the essential boldness of the 18th century master. Therefore,
we have reservation on the authenticity of this paticular netsuke, and tend to
believe that the netsuke is by a carver of a much later time, possibly during
the Meiji era, when the Gessho netsuke was copied for European exports. All in
all, this is a unique netsuke of great charm, despite that there is a break on
Ashinaga's legs. Though expert restoration has made the crack lines nearly invisible.