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Neil Holton Japanese Art

Jurojin Ryukei

An early wood figure of Jurojin. The stout ancient looking lucky God shuffles along under his robes.

A single hand grips the end of his outer garment to aid his motion. The other hand grips a minogame, which gently nestles to the Gods shoulder. The robes are loose and descend to the ground partially covering the Gods boots. A type of habit covers the elongated cranium of the God. The himotoshi is formed by a single entrance hole and a gap between the habit and garment, which is a very clever use of design, indeed it makes the himotoshi on this Netsuke one of its many appealing features. The facial expression of the God is quite peculiar, wonderfully conceived, though difficult to determine; I have heard the expression described varyingly from angst to joy and indeed, depending on the day one can change ones mind about what can be seen in the expression.

Early Ryukei’s excite me. Or perhaps more accurately put, early figures that left the studio under the very first masters tenure have it all. They exhibit what early Edo school figures are all about, but also have the carving refinement that lots of the very early ones don’t. Like Tsuji’s, or Ogasawara Issai figures (artists working at around the same time) they have interesting character and super carving technique to boot. When Ryukei took to carving independently, Edo school figures were at a crossroads. For generation or two before his time, figures were amazingly characterful and large. A generation after and thereafter they were dainty and dare I say, in general, fussy. Ryukei’s from the early period are the pinnacle of Edo School figure carving and our example will be sorely missed.

Signed: Ryukei. Edo School. Last years of the 18th Century, very early 19th Century.

Guide Price - £8,500

5.4cm High.

For a similar example please see; The Baur Collection. Number 83.