Hereafter are some of my favorite netsuke presently in my collection. The majority of the netsuke shown on this page are by old masters; however, I am also including two contemporary pieces.
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|Japanese Zodiac (junishi) by Meigyokusai, ca. 1960 front view||Japanese Zodiac (junishi) by Meigyokusai, ca. 1960 rear view||Ivory tigress with cub by Tomotada (before 1781)|
The ivory Japanese zodiac netsuke above was the first netsuke I purchased from Tsuruki in Shinmonzen Street in Kyoto in January 1967. It was initially ‘signed’ Masatsugu and I bought it as a late 19th century export model. Later I found out that it was carved by a living carver, Meigyokusai of Kyoto, in the early 1960s. I managed to meet the then already 70 year old netsuke shi in his new home in Shiga Prefecture. Mr. Hiraga (his real name) recognized his work but when asked why he used someone else’s signature, he replied: When Mr. Tsuruki orders 100 copies of this model from a insignificant carver like me, you are happy that he remembered you and you inscribe whatever name he asks you to place on the netsuke, after all you have got to feed your family.
The other is a large rendition of a Tiger and cub by Soken Kisho carver Tomotada. It has a wonderful age patina and lies sweetly in the hand. A German collector once coined a fitting word for such netsuke: Handschmeichler. This could be translated literally as ‘hand-charmer’.