today, traveling across Japan, you may run across a sarumawashi; a professional
showman who makes a living entertaining with his trained monkey. In this realistically
carved netsuke the two halves of this performing duo exhaustedly rest on a straw
mat. The monkey grabs at his trainer’s sleeve, reaching for food and affection
while the man gazes into the distance, the worn look of a traveling artist distinguishing
his face. A pack is slung across his back and a baton rests against his shoulder.
Beautifully sculpted in curving, lifelike forms, the ivory is colored a light
of the features of this piece is what is known as a “natural himotoshi”, that
is, a himotoshi created by the natural gaps within the contours of the sculpture.
Though it could be argued that this piece is actually an okimono and not a netsuke,
traces of wear on the trainer’s head, hands, and the monkey’s robe suggest netsuke
like use. The piece is in very good condition.