Late 19th century netsuke of a seated cook being surprised as a long eel tries to bite hin on a cheek. Rather unusual subject, very well carved with wonderful detailing - see his face with mouth wide open and tongue stuck out, fins of the fish, millet designs of his robe and a tobacco pouch with manju netsuke on his back. Beautiful staining and patina, very nice wear, in excellent condition. Signed MASAKAZU on the bottom - the artist is most probably Sawaki Masakazu of Osaka - see The Meinertzhagen Card Index of Netsuke in the Archives of the British Museum, p. 420. Height 1 1/16 inches.