Kyoto, circa 1780
A seated rat, its head raised and two paws clutching its long tail which curls up under the plump body. The forepaws are raised from the ground as it rests on its haunches, its head raised with an alert and inquisitive expression. The skin of its plump body falls in a soft bulge at its elbows. The round protruding eyes are inlaid in dark horn and the whiskers are incised in sparse long strokes.
Signed in an oval reserve: Masanao
Masanao of Kyoto’s carvings have a unique feeling of immediacy and life. The carver captures the natural expression of his subjects in such a way that one almost expects them to move. He carved rats in different poses, but always with an acute understanding, leading us to believe that he was able to observe and study the creatures freely in real life.