A seated wood Daikoku holds a chisel in one hand and mallet in the other, readying himself to strike.
Between his feet, he grips a half-carved rat with wood shavings strewn. Typical of Tokoku’s early work, the netsuke is carved in ultra-fine detail with the only inlay being a ring of shell to the small hole of the himotoshi. The face is full of joy, his chubby cheeks stretching to meet his enlarged earlobes, which peek out from under the hat. The tassel that hangs down from his mallet is a wonderful piece of carving; pierced with open work, so life-like it looks as if it would be soft to the touch. The pattern carved to the cuffs of the jacket and hem of the trousers pops and draws the eye. For such a small area, which can only measure 3mm wide, it has such depth and precision.
This subject was extensively carved by Tokoku and his followers, available in all degrees of quality. Most notable is the ex-Winkworth/Hindson version, which was carved later, when Tokoku had fully embraced his mosaic style of carving. It employs an array of inlays, but unlike many, it retains the ultra-fine carving to the wood and beautifully expressive face.
Another very good example in which the same style of lighter stain is used as ours is pictured in the Sotheby’s catalogue for the Madelyn Hickmott sale – number 3.
Signed, Fuzui, with a kakihan (Tokoku I 1846–1913)
Height: 3.5cm Width: 3.4cm Depth: 2.4cm
Similar examples: For a colour photo of the Winkworth/ Hindson version, see “The netsuke hall of fame’s record breakers”, Bernard Hurtig
Sotheby’s, “Fine Netsuke, Inro and Lacquer from the Estate of Madelyn Hickmott” Wednesday, 8th February 1989
The Baur Collection, Netsuke C-46
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