Kamigata, circa 1800

A fierce oni-like demon leans forward with a snarling face, his horns framed by his windswept hair and incisor teeth pushing down his lower lip. His feet are armed with two long claw-like toes and he wears a simple loin-cloth over a tiger-skin, rings around his wrists and ankles. The inclination of his muscular body implies threat and a warning not to approach.

Signed in a sunken oval cartouche: Mitsushige

This demon is far removed from the comical household oni more familiar to netsuke collectors and most likely refers to the fierce demons which can sometimes be found supporting the feet of statues of deities.

No other reference can be found to this artist, whose signature differs somewhat from that of the better-known mid-19th century Osaka carver of the same name. Stylistically it seems to have more in common with Kyoto carvings, and can be usefully compared to two other carvings of the same subject illustrated in the exhibition catalogue In a Nutshell (p. 26, nos. 25 & 26), where one is signed by the Kyoto carver Hoshin and the other is attributed to Masanao.

Height: 4.0cm

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