19th century wooden netsuke in manju (rice cake) shape carved on the front in low relief with a woman holding in her mouth an object that looks like a hammer striker for a musical instrument, a cloth wrapped top of a biwa (Japanese lute) in her hand and a scaly body of a dragon on her right. The woman is Benten - the Goddess of learning, speech and music - and one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, and the netsuke can be interpreted as a wish for scholarly achievements. The back is incised with a figure of a resting buffalo, its head turned up. Excellent carving with wonderful detailing of her face and hair, beautiful patina on the surface, two parts fir perfectly. Signed KATSUMASA on the back - the artist is listed in FULD'S NETSUKE AND OJIME INDEX, and a manju netsuke by him in similar style is illustrated in Christie’s London sale on June 17, 1996, lot 120. Diameter 1 11/16 inches.