Unsigned netsuke Shishi and Peony
An unusual kagamibuta, the bean shaped bowl carved in striated kurogaki (black persimmon). The silver metal plate, rendered in high relief, depicts a shishi to the right dipping its chest to the ground and flicking its luxuriant tail as it roars out a warning. To the left, a large peony begins to unfurl its petals into a magnificent bloom, while dew drops are scattered on its foliage. The smaller himotoshi is banded in ivory.
The peony (jp. Botan) is an emblem of beauty, while the shishi represents bravery and strength. Legend relates that shishi would be push their offspring over cliff edges, only those able to climb their way back up being deemed worthy of survival. The combination of contrasting attributes is frequently found in pictorial art.