Komatsu Mitsukata - two case inro of plum wood
Early 19th Century
A two case inro of plum wood. One side is carved with two minogame on a rocky outcrop above crashing waves, the larger one turning his head back to its smaller companion below. On the reverse two snakes, one slithers down the gnarled trunk of an ancient pine towards another coiled by the tree’s exposed roots.
The image forms a complete picture that wraps around the inro, the pine leaning over towards the rocky platform and the swirling water. The trunk of the tree is carved to show the scaly bark, pine cones and spikey foliage.
The background is incised in flowing horizontal lines, suggestive of mist, while the ground below is stippled irregularly. The setting for the minogame scene is choppy water below heavy cloud. To the top of the inro are three interlocking circles (mitsugana wa chigai), the mon of the Kaneda family and an interlocking mon of a butterfly (ageha no cho), the jo-mon of the Taira and Fukumoto families. This indicates an alliance, possibly by marriage.
The top and bottom cases are divided inside for seals and ink.
Signed in incised characters: Komatsu Mitsukata
The minogame is emblematic of longevity. A snake wound around a turtle represents the compass point of the North.
Meinertzhagen mistakenly records the artist as Oshomitsu (MCI, p. 625). Ducros’s catalogue for Paris Edo shows a single case inro carved with a tiger to one side and a horse drinking from a river watched by a monkey, with an ensuite umimatsu netsuke of a tiger, all by Komatsu Mitsukata.