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A delicate and fine wood grouping of five monkeys in and around a rotten nut.
To the front are three monkeys; one laid on its back, eyes covered by the monkey leaning out of the nut, whose other hand is covering an ear of the third monkey, who reciprocates by covering the mouth of the monkey leaning out of the nut. The monkey laid on his back uses an outstretched foot to cover the other ear of the third monkey. Confusing, I know, but it makes for a fun and unusual composition of the old Japanese maxim, Sambiki Saru (see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil).
To the back of the nut, a monkey pokes its head out and peers up at the final and best-rendered monkey of the group, who clings to the side of the nut looking down at his companion. The bottom of the nut is realistically carved with the himotoshi formed by one small and one larger circular hole.
The carver, Kaigyokudo Masateru, was the grandson of Kaigyokusai Masatsugu and worked from Osaka.
Signed, Masateru (Kaigyokudo Masateru, Osaka 1871–1946)
Late 19th century
Height: 3.2cm Width: 3.5cm Depth: 3.1cm
Similar examples: MCI, page 294. A similar example in ivory by Kaigyokusai Masatsugu
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