19th Century, finely hand-carved Boxwood Netsuke depicting the Wisdom Pillar at the Todai-ji Temple in Nara, Japan.
As the legend has it, anyone who is successful in squeezing through the hole on this 'healing' support pillar, which is the same size as the nostril of the Great Buddha housed in the temple, will be granted enlightenment, eternal happiness and good luck.
The artist (unsigned) has skillfully carved this netsuke with moving parts to show the act of passing through the 'Wisdom' hole. For this reason, this carving is also known as a "Karakuri" or articulated netsuke. A photo of the actual pillar is shown in the photo gallery (#6).
The netsuke is beautifully preserved with a deep patina. It measures 1.28 inches (3.2cm) wide, 0.78 inches (2.0cm) deep, and 1.84 inches (4.7cm) tall.