rare find-- this carving is one of an unusual collection of five venerable gentlemen
who have come together to enjoy a popular entertainment of retired elders--cockfighting.
Created in the mid-Meiji era when Japanese craftsmen began making novelty netsuke
for the amusement of Western collectors, this market gave rise to many forms of
ingenious creation, some with movable eyes or heads, some as intricate scenes
hidden within a nut or a clam, or articulated insects and sea creatures.
are carved from tusk tips, close grained and well marked with striations and cross
hatching, engraved with foliate and geometric designs, hair and script accented
with sumi. In addition to his prized fowl, one seated gentleman is holding up
a book about netsuke. The man in the soft hat has elongated “royal” earlobes.
The second seated man holds a reishi mushroom, the fungus of immortality, while
the standing man in the tall hat holds a fruit, possibly the bilwa which is an
auspicious symbol of health and longevity.
Sold To Private Collection