Project Description

Walrus Ivory Netsuke of a Kappa, Frog and Crab, Circle of Ozaki Kokusai

The kappa pursuing the frog around an upturned lotus leaf, while a crab tries to help out by pinching one of the kappa’s hind legs

Unsigned.  Probably Tokyo, circa 1870

3.8 cm across


My attribution is no doubt controversial, but it springs from observation of the triangular section of the kappa’s limbs, typical of Kokusai and seen most notably in the creature in Paul Moss’s collection, illustrated in his recent magnum opus, vol. II, no. 64. While the overall delicacy of this carving seems closer to Rensai than to Kokusai, it nonetheless feels more akin to the Kokusai example in the Veranneman collection (Eskenazi, no. 220) than to the Rensai in the Minneapolis exhibition (Welsh and Chappell, no. 168)