Almost abstract in form, this stained boxwood netsuke depicts two wrestling monkeys balanced upon a plinth. These creatures, beloved subjects in Japan, are often portrayed enjoying humanistic activities. In this lovely piece, the artist perfectly captivates the spirit of this sport so venerated in Japan. (During the Tokugawa period, professional wrestling -sumo - became very popular. Coupled with Hokusai’s print series on wrestlers, the sport provided infinite inspiration to netsuke artists, many of their wrestling netsuke treated with various degrees of humor.) This netsuke, an excellent example of this fascination, is unsigned and in very good condition, its gentle wear and good patina due to age and use.
19th Century, Japan