Posted 12 months ago
18th century ivory netsuke of Shinno (Shennong in Chinese) seated on rockery with a sprig of herb in his mouth. Rare subject, strong early carving of characteristic triangular section, beautiful wear and patina, old age lines. Old chip to one of the "numinous" bumps on his head, loss to a portion of rockery next to his right foot. Height 1 1/2 inches.
The person represented is the mythical sage Shinno (Shennong in Chinese) who discovered the use of medicinal herbs, was honored with the title of Emperor, and later became the God of Agriculture and Medicine. He is said to have tasted hundreds of herbs to test their medical value. Legend has it that Shennong had a transparent body and thus could see the effects of different plants and herbs on himself. Tea, which acts as an antidote against the poisonous effects of some seventy herbs, is also said to be his discovery in 2737 B.C.