Stag antler sashi netsuke - Kokusai

circa 1870

Kokusai stag antler sashi netsuke
Kokusai Stag

A slender, smooth bodied dragon wraps itself around the cap of a reishi fungus. The elongated snout coils in towards its gaping mouth, while its rear leg and tail curl to form an illusion of a mirror image and creating a mokugyo-like shape. The archaic rain dragon is totemic in Kokusai’s designs and appears repeatedly in his work. Paul Moss’s major study, Kokusai the Genius published in 2016, shows four reishi-shaped works that echo this particular design (nos. 316-319). The base of the stem is pierced with an i-no-me (boar’s eye), an inverted heart-shape, emblematic of unflinching courage.

The auspicious reishi fungus, symbolising long life, grows with a natuarally short stem, but under certain circumstances this can lengthen and is referred to as an ‘antler’ sashi. Kokusai, quite appropriately, exploits the natural shape of the antler to fashion a sashi netsuke that also serves as a sceptre. In this example he has created an extra expression of his characteristic wit, the design of the head also suggesting an hallucogenic face with vortex eyes.

Kokusai stag antler sashi netsuke
Kokusai Stag antler sashi netsuke
Kokusai stag antler sashi netsuke
Detail with signature

Signed in raised characters against a hatched ground, within a double-banded elliptical reserve: Kokusai

Length: 21cms

Signature Kokusai
Signature Kokusai
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