Project Description

Ivory netsuke of Songokū by Gyokusai

Dressed in armour and holding a sacred baton, the monkey shields his eyes from the sun and stares into the distance. The eyes have inlaid dark pupils. Natural himotoshi
The monkey Songokū was one of 3 servants of the holy monk Sanzō Hōshi (Hiuen Tsang, 603-669), the others being a boar and a demon. His patron having to prove his saintliness by performing 108 different acts, Songokū helped him by plucking the same number of hairs from his body and blowing on them, creating 107 doubles of his master, leaving each to carry out one saintly act. At one point Songokū was turned into a rock by Kannon, and in the present netsuke he is probably shown being released from it. The band around his head is what bound him to obey his monk-master
Provenance:
Galerie Yamato, Paris, April 2003, purchased by the present owner
MR3951

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