Project Description

Ivory netsuke of Shiro 

The oni cowering face down, the rat on its back annoying it with holly leaves. The rat’s eyes are inlaid in dark horn

Signed: Minko with kaō. Circa 1800

Length: 4.2 cm


This represents Shiro, an attendant of Emma-ō, who was sent to steal Daikoku’s bag of rice. Hearing him approach, Daikoku’s rats rush out and beat the oni back with a branch of holly. Although I was initially sceptical of the Minko signature, he did carve both a lying and standing version of this subject, the former illustrated in the Meinertzhagen Card Index (p. 511), the latter listed in the Seymour Trower collection, no. 72.  The present signature is convincing, even if I am used to seeing the subject unsigned