Kamigata, circa 1850

A narwhal ivory baku sits on a craggy promontory with his forepaws resting protectively on a large tama. The rugged rock which forms his pedestal exploits the natural spiral-grooved surface of the outer cementum, while the cut surfaces of the triangular section are carved and stippled to imitate the rocky cliff-face.

The single horn of the narwhal has been prized throughout history as the tusk of the fabled unicorn. Netsuke in narwhal ivory are rare as it was so costly.  It was quite usual for the carver to leave a section of the unworked rind visible as an attestation of the authenticity of the material.

Height: 4.5cm