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Large wood netsuke of a rat

Its head raised slightly from the ground as it scents the atmosphere. The rodent’s paws rest on its long tail, which slinks into an S shape under its resting body.  The large ears are pulled back and the large beady eyes bulge watchfully either side of the high central curve of the nose. Hair work is lightly incised into the reddish-brown wood and enhanced with dark stain. The teeth are inlaid in ivory.

Signed on a raised elliptical reserve: Tomokazu.
Gifu-Nagoya, or more likely Kyoto.
Circa 1800
Length: 5.8 cms


Raymond Bushell, Tokyo and San Francisco
Private collection, Michigan
Sydney Moss, London
Sheila Baker, London
Private collection, Belgium


This or a very similar netsuke: Lazarnick, G., The Meinertzhagen Card Index on Netsuke in the Archives of the British Museum, Part B, New York, 1986, p. 899

Sydney L. Moss Ltd., Meetings with Remarkable Netsuke, 1996, no. 53

Rutherston & Bandini Ltd., The Sheila M. Baker Collection, 2011, no. 42

Paul Moss’s account in the catalogue cited above admirably sums up the reasons to rate this netsuke so highly,  not least because of its affinity to the work of Kyoto carvers such as Masanao.

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