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Ashinaga Tanega Netsuke

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Antique Japanese Netsuke
Ashinaga and Tanega
Stained & Lacquered
Ivory
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

Ashinaga (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.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
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