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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Fine Japanese Carved Boxwood Netsuke Depicting a Human Skeleton"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Signed Shoko, Hida School
Mid 19th Century
Size: 4.5cm high, 5.5cm long, 2 cm wide – 1¾ ins high, 2¼ ins long, ¾ wide
cf: Raymond Bushell: Netsuke Hanbook, no. 199, for a very similar Netsuke by Shoko, and Neil Davey: Netsuke, no. 741, for another Netsuke by Shoko of a skeleton mixing Miso, Ex Mrs Isobel Sharpe collection
The subject matter is probably an allusion to the legend of Komachi and Fukakasa Shosho. Fukakasa was a tempestuous general who lost his life in a vain effort to prove his love for Komachi, while she survived into a loveless old age. To the Japanese the tempestuousness of Fukakasa symbolised by the wolf, and the pride of Komachi symbolised by the skeleton, allegorise the vanity of life.