Inada Ichiro (1891-1977)
A miniature wood netsuke of a monkey entertainer dressed in the attire of a Shinto priest, a tate-eboshi on his head and holding a hara-egushi, a wand adorned with folded paper gohei used to purify land, or a person. The simian’s expression is benign as he sits patiently, one paw resting on his knee. The hat and chin-tie are enhanced with light sumi-e stained and a small red-coloured bead is laid to the back of the robes.
Sarumawashi and their performing companions can still occasionally be found in Shinto shrines in Japan. The monkey is believed to be a protective spirit who watches over horses and a famous transom of the sanbikisaru (three wise monkeys) surmounts the stable of the white horse at Nikko Toshogu shrine.