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Neil Holton Japanese Art

Rat Catcher

I love sculpture that has me pondering what happened next?

The vast majority of Rat Catchers portray the catcher as a villainous looking character sinisterly peering over his shoulder at the rat which scurries away. Masaka was perhaps the finest exponent of this type. Roko however, treated the subject differently, though rarely repeating the theme in quite the same way.

Our Catcher, often described as disapointed may well just about to become the severely injured Rat Catcher, for in the next moment, in all the excitement it appears he may well take a swing at the Rat, which is gripped to his thigh! One can imagine the Rat having paused in this position just long enough to trigger the Catchers swing, though at the point of impact the Rat will be long gone and in its place will be the the catchers poor thigh, and no amount of Moxa or massage from the blind masseur is going to fix the damage.

Roko’s version is ‘slap stick’ comedy at its best, it has a human villain beating himself up and a whily animal champion outwitting the villain. Oh and if that wasn’t enough, the carving technique is quite simply inspiring!

Signed: Roko. Probably Tokyo. Meiji Period.

6.7cm Long