compelling netsuke depicts a karako riding on the back of Fukurokuju, one of the
seven Japanese gods of luck. Fukurokuju stands for happiness (fuku), wealth (roku),
and longevity (ju). The child’s rope wraps around his characteristic elongated
bald head, with the high hand finishing and passing ages, the ivory exhibiting
an attractive gleam in the light. Details like the child’s bemused expression,
the slight pinkish patina stained within Fukurokuju’s mouth and his comically
large earlobes, and the finely etched detail of their clothing create added depth
to this amusing and thought provoking piece. Signed Shounsai, a cataloged netsuke
artist from the mid 19th century, he is known for his work in both wood and ivory,
usually making fairly small figures with expressive faces and detailed dress patterns.
The piece has a minor usage worn, and possible old restoration to the right rope
around the head of Fukurokuju.