SUMO NETSUKE and OKIMONO featuring a selection from the Karl-Ludwig Kley collection

SUMO NETSUKE and OKIMONO featuring a selection from the Karl-Ludwig Kley collection

Karl-Ludwig Kley first got hooked on the sport of sumo back in 1987 while on a five-year assignment to Japan, buying his first netsuke of the subject two years later, a contemporary piece by the respected carver, Hodo. Little did he realise that a delightful miniature carving was to start a lifelong passion.

Now 25 years later, he has developed a keen eye and fine understanding of the art form. Conscious of the ever burgeoning size of his collection he has decided to sell a few pieces, which we are delighted to present.

Many appeared in the book of his collection, Tiny Titans, published in 2006.

He mentions in his preface to this book that “sumo taught me a lot about the Japanese – their history, their culture, the social and religious structure of their society, the rites and objets d’art of their great civilisation.” Sumo presents a microcosm of the world of feudal Japan.

The most popular challenge for the netsuke carver seems to have been a depiction of the famous encounter between Matano no Goro and Kawazu no Saburo, the smaller man managing to use his guile to overcome his huge opponent. Several examples are offered here.

Max and I are grateful to Ken Adlard for his fine photography, and to Anna Soranzo for her design of the catalogue. We are particularly happy to still have Anna as part of the team, thanks to the wonders of the Internet.