was a 12th century poet, and a samurai in the service of the Imperial court. He
became weary of the vanity in politics and entered Buddhist priesthood at the
age of 23. Saigyo has been a popular subject for Japanese carvers since 15th century.
As in this carving, he is represented traveling throughout Japan as a Yamabushi,
often in the pose of composing poetry while gazing at Mount Fuji.
intricate carving is both bold and virile. The composition is sweeping with force
as in Yamabushi's intense gaze. With one foot resting on the luggage, his musculature
and pose convey strength and dignity, while his robe is engraved with the symbol
of the Buddhist Wheel and Om in Sanskrit. The carving has succeeded in representing
a perfect samurai priest image that cannot be improved upon. Moreover, it is equally
impressive that this powerfully executed okimono is also small enough to be a
large netsuke. Despite such fine artistry, the carver who signed his small signature
"Kamedo" is an obscure artist; whom we tentatively attribute to working in the
late 19th-early 20th century.