Hidari Issan (1804-1857)

Iwashiro, circa 1850

A netsuke fashioned from a double walnut, the sides smoothed and burnished and carved with a scattering of matsudake mushrooms. Thick fleshy stems support the domed caps, with just one mature cap inverting and splitting, the gills finely carved.

A kurumi nut carving of a quail by Hidari Issan from the Kurstin collection was recently described in a catalogue as being dated 1797, no doubt as a result of a long-standing misinterpretation of the inscription 丁巳晩秋、左一山篤 “Hinoto-mi banshu, Hidari Issan Atsu” [In the late autumn of the year of Hinoto-mi] (indicating 1857 in this example).

I am grateful to Mieko Gray for solving this “puzzle” for me.

Signed: 左一山篤 Hidari Issan Atsu
Width: 3.5cm
The final kanji of the signature, 篤, is the first character of Issan’s given name: Atsumitsu.

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