Kawamoto Shuraku

Edo (Tokyo), circa 1850

Kawamoto Shuraku

A seated karako reaches behind his head to pull at his costume as he prepares to don a fierce shishimai mask. His robes, which fall in soft folds, bear traces of a scrolling floral pattern. Carved from narwhal tusk, the rind of the material to the back of the boy has worn smooth with age. Narwhal was a rare and highly prized material, carvers would leave a section of the outer surface visible to testify to its authenticity. In this example, however, heavy use has worn the ridges of the material into faint spiralling lines

Signed: Shuraku with seal: Shuraku

Width: 2.7cm

Kawamoto Shuraku is particularly known for his netsuke carved in narwhal. Meinertzhagen records a similar piece to this one, but in ivory and featuring two children in the composition.

Kawamoto Shuraku