Wood netsuke of a snake and tortoise

Gifu school, early 19th century 

Signed Tomokazu  in a rectangular reserve

3.9 by 3.4 by 3.0 cm


The small tortoise shown enveloped by its shell while the large snake attempts to find a way inside, its forked tongue licking out at the tortoise's head, the details are well rendered, the body of the snake forming a robust himotoshi.

The snake and tortoise combination represents winter and the north. It was thought that they were male and female members of the same species because of the similarities in the shape of their heads. They were also considered to reproduce only by thinking and this may help to explain why the snake's head is precisely positioned above and in the middle of the tortoise's head by Tomokazu. Perhaps it represents the combining of their thoughts rather than the fact that they are just fighting.

Price: 12,000 €

Inventory Nr: 1

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