Nagoya, circa 1830
A male rat looks up as he grips a shogi chess tile under his forepaw, its thick tail coiled neatly under its body. On the underside the shogi tile is deeply incised with the kanji for horse – the equivalent of a knight in Western chess. The rat and the horse represent opposite signs in the Asian zodiac and as such are considered incompatible. However, if the ‘younger’ of the two signs (the horse) submits to the older (the rat), then the pairing can be successful. Clearly here it is the rodent that has the upper hand, so indicating a felicitous partnership of opposites.
The hairwork is finely incised and the eyes are inlaid in dark horn.
Signed in an elliptical reserve: Tomokazu