Netsuke - Busho Slaying a Tiger

Netsuke - Busho Slaying a Tiger


A large ivory netsuke of Busho slaying a tiger. The tiger’s head is down and turned away from Busho, his rear legs raised attempting to pull himself away. Busho, who has the upper hand, has one arm around the tiger’s neck, the other driving a sword into the tiger’s body. His robes hang down around his waist, dishevelled from the struggle, the rolls of cloth forming the two holes of the himotoshi. The sword is an unusual addition to this legend and one that I have spent much time considering. Normally, we would expect the addition of a sword to point toward the legend of Hadesu, but the lack of armour and style of the figure’s hair and clothes make me believe that Busho is the intended legend and that some artistic licence was employed.

Circa 1780

Unsigned, Kyoto

7.4cm long

3.5cm tall

3.3cm deep


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