most intricate contemporary netsuke portraying an unusual motif of a sage riding
on a camel. Presumably inspired by Chinese paintings of the Tang Dynasty (618-907
AD), many of which depicted holy men of India wandering on camels to China via
the Silk Road. Astonishingly small in size, this beautifully realized figure of
a holy man in form and spirit, with immaculate technique and meticulous detail
rendered on a plane about half of an inch, completed with handsome and expressive
features embedded in a face no larger than the head of a match.
Masanao inside a sumi inked reserve on the oval shaped base. The carver of this
superb netsuke is attributed to a member of the famous Masanao lineage, which
is composed of generations of master netsuke carvers since the 18th century. As
stated in “Contemporary Netsuke” by Miriam Kinsey: Shinzan Masanao is among the
first-rank twentieth-century carvers. The Sage On Camel netsuke may well be the
work of one of his four daughters.