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Tongue Cut Sparrow Netsuke

Antique Japanese Netsuke
Tongue-Cut Sparrow
Shita-kiri Suzume
Signature: Osai. Circa: 19th Century

Recorded in The Netsuke Handbook of Ueda Reikichi #787
H. 1.6 in.(3.5cm), W. 1.75 in.(4.5cm), D. 1.3 in.(2.7cm)
Condition: o.a. very good!

In the Japanese legend of “The Tongue-Cut Sparrow”, Nasakeji saved a sparrow and named her Bidori. One day a neighbor caught the little bird eating some grain that was left in the open, she took a pair of scissor and cut off his tongue. When Nasakeji heard of the news, he went into the forest in search of the wounded bird. There he was greeted by Bidori and a family of sparrows. They gave him a large and a small gift basket, but the humble old man took only the smaller one. Upon returned home he found it full of treasures. Then the neighbor learned of the event. She rushed into the forest and found the sparrow family. Likewise, she was offered a large and a small gift basket, in her avarice she took the large one, hoping that it was full of treasures. When on her way home she impatiently opened the basket, an assembly of demons sprang out and devoured her on the spot.

Sold To Private Collection

This astonishingly expressive netsuke depicting Nasakeji opening the gift basket, with Bidori the sparrow by his side about to serve the kind man a cup of tea. The composition and carving of the figures are both virile and vigorous, with sharply observed realism and minute details. It captured the decisive moment perfectly, revealing the high point of the drama through the joyous countenance of the man, which leads us into still a closer look-- from the weaving of the basket, the carrier straps and key near the base, gradually coming into focus are the meticulous stipplings and wavy line works, that aligned in visual harmony with the mirror finishing in sections such as the elbow patches. The netsuke is an original design completed with thorough integrity. The brilliant artistry is unmatched, and unlike other similar theme found in our netsuke library. Although Osai is mentioned by Ueda Reikichi in The Netsuke Handbook, and by Neil Davey in the Hindson Collection, there are scarcely little reference of his life and work. Which made this netsuke a rare masterpiece in a class of its own.

Tongue Cut Sparrow Netsuke
Osai Signature
Shita-Kiri  Suzume Netsuke
Tongue Cut Sparrow Netsuke signed Osai
Last BuddhaFuture Buddha

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