Posted 12 months ago
This netsuke depicts a karako riding on the back of Fukurokuju, one of the seven Japanese gods of luck. Fukurokuju stands for happiness (fuku), wealth (roku), and longevity (ju). The child’s rope wraps around his characteristic elongated bald head, with the high hand finishing and passing ages, the ivory exhibiting an attractive gleam in the light. Details like the child’s bemused expression, the slight pinkish patina stained within Fukurokuju’s mouth and his comically large earlobes, and the finely etched detail of their clothing create added depth to this amusing and thought provoking piece. Dimensions: 1”(H)x1.6”(W)x0.8”.
Signed Shounsai, a cataloged netsuke artist from the mid 19th century, he is known for his work in both wood and ivory, usually making fairly small figures with expressive faces and detailed dress patterns. The piece has a minor usage worn, and possible old restoration to the right rope around the head of Fukurokuju. Shounsai Joryu is listed in Ueda as Joryu, # 396. Larzarnick's N&IA, pg. 539. Davey, Netsuke, pg 526, lists 4 signatures for "Shounsai", using a range of different characters. (See illustrations in Davey, nos. 381-387) Although Ueda says "Early" for the period of this carver, I don't believe carvings by him were conducted prior to the 19th century.