Project Description

Celebrated Large Walrus Ivory Netsuke of Masks by Moriharu

Eight masks in all, the subjects comprising five male, one female, one demon and one fox.  The eyes of most are inlaid in dark horn and the female’s headdress is inlaid with three coral studs

Signed on the fox’s ear. Probably Edo. Circa 1770

Width: 4.9 cm


Frederick Meinertzhagen

Carlo Monzino

Mike and Hiroko Dean collection

Sheila Baker

Rutherston & Bandini Ltd.

Private collection, Belgium


In a letter to Donald Cowdry, dated  12th March 1958,  Frederick Meinertzhagen 

expresses great enthusiasm for this piece: “the earliest and finest mask-group known to me, of immense power, by an obscure carver…” and on his index card “ the above is certainly the finest mask group I have ever had or seen, being of remarkable power and breadth, showing the fine oily warm yellow patina characteristic of walrus ivory. Date, not later that mid 18th century”


F. Meinertzhagen, “The Art of the Netsuke Carver”, London 1956, fig. 133

G. Lazarnick, ‘The Meinertzhagen Card Index’, New York 1986, p. 576, illustrated

Sotheby’s London, Carlo Monzino sale, 21st June 1995, lot 146

Sotheby’s London, 14th November 2000, lot 111

Rutherston and Bandini, ‘Sheila Baker Collection’, no. 32