A carved wood netsuke of a seated fox (kitsune) cradling a small drum—reference to the legend of Genkuro, a kitsune known for his filial piety. The animal’s fur is finely delineated with delicate incisions, the positioning of the body and closed eyes capture the fox’s forlornness over its parents being turned into a drum. (In Japanese folklore, the fox is held as both a good and wily creature, its opportunistic nature and nighttime activity exemplifies the creature’s duplicity. The fox is also a messenger of the Shinto god, Inari—the god of rice, fertility and agriculture.) This charming netsuke is in very good condition with minor surface wear, commensurate with age and use.
19th Century, Japan