Hidari Issan (1804-1857)
Iwashiro, circa 1840
A smooth dragon coils its body back on itself in irregular loops and clutches a sacred tama (jewel) in it left foreclaw. The underside is reticulated and its head pulled back in a defensive pose. The glaring eyes are inlaid in bone with metal rimmed dark horn pupils.
Western netsuke books frequently attest that the name ‘Hidari’ – meaning left – indicates that the artist was left-handed. It has however been suggested that another explanation might be a reference to the legendary late 16th-early 17th century sculptor Hidari Jingoro.