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Antique Japanese Carved Antler Netsuke
Mongol On Fire
Running on One Foot with Crutch

Unsigned. Circa: 18th-early 19th Century
h. 3.6 in.(9cm), w. 1 in.(2.5cm), d. 1 in.(2.5cm)
Condition: minor age crack, o.a. very good!

A man with a frightened expression pulling his beard running on one foot with a clutch, wearing a horse-tailed Mongol hat indicating that he is a soldier on the run. The netsuke is a complete departure from the usual Mongol archer theme, and the highly unusual design possibly commemorates the 13th-century historic event, in which the overwhelming Mongol forces were defeated in a storm, and the word kamikaze (divine wind) was first used to symbolizes the might of the Japanese empire.

A large broad face netsuke with horn inlaid bulging eyes, and a twisted opened mouth showing an intricately carved set of teeth. This distinctive figure measures nearly four inches in height, in a highly polished smooth surface that accentuates the even shine in the planes, and flashes of light streaks in the undulating contours. More remarkable is the ingenuity in the naturalistic treatment of the backside of the figure. Where the outer layer is artfully preserved, with its variant of brown hues polished to a glassy sheen; apparently resembles burning garments on the Mongol who escaped from a firestorm. The vary sized himotoshi and aged patina are consistent with netsuke of the 18th century. The figure appeared frozen in motion. The countenances are both weird and powerful, grotesque and beautiful all at once.

Private Collection

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