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Antique Japanese Meiji Netsuke
Kanzan & Jittoku
Reading Zen Scripture
Signature: Gyokusho. Circa: 19th Century
H 2in.(5cm.), W 1.5in.(3.5cm.), D 1in.(2.5cm.)
Condition: restored left hand, no himotoshi

An antique Meiji Era netsuke, cream to gold in color with a mellow age patina; marked with striations, engraved with sumi for the details of faces, hair and embroideries in foliate and cloud motifs; well carved and tinted with a rose colored pigment for the collars of the garments. Natural himotoshi. Depicting two famous mad monks, Kanzan and Jittoku.

kanzan-jittoku Netsuke
Sold To Private Collection

Kanzan Jittoku Netsuke

Kanzan's name means "Cold Mountain," and so he is sometimes called the "Recluse of Cold Mountain." Jittoku's name means "the Foundling." Kanzan was a mountain recluse or hermit in the Taoist tradition. Jittoku was an orphan in the care of a nearby Buddhist monastery, where he swept the kitchen floors. Jittoku would often bring left over food from the monastery kitchen to Kanzan, and the two would amuse themselves in the evening with poetry and moon viewing. Kanzan usually appears holding or reading a scroll representing knowledge, and Jittoku appears holding a broom symbolizing his humility.

Kanzan wrote:

I found and chose a distant place to dwell-
T'ien-t'ai: what more is there to say?
Monkeys cry where valley mists are cold;
My grass gate blends with the color of the crags.
I pick leaves to thatch a hut among the pines,
Scoop out a pond and lead a runnel from the spring.
By now I am used to doing without the world.
Picking ferns, I pass the years that are left.

  
  
  
  
  
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