Ittan - seated fox netsuke
Nagoya, circa 1850
A seated fox hangs its head over a loosely wrapped hand drum that it cradles against its body, the cloth flowing to the ground and calling to mind the flowing robes of a ghost. The netsuke depicts the story of Kitsune Tadanobu, subject of the kabuki play Yoshitsune senbon zakura. Tadanobu, one of the four retainers of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, was tasked with escorting Yoshitsune’s concubine, Shizuka. On their parting Yoshitsune gave a hand drum to Shizuka that was made from fox’s skin. Legend relates that a fox assumed the shape of Tadanobu in order to seize the drum, which was made from the skin of its mother.