Japanese vintage boxwood netsuke of a Shishi or Japanese lion, dating to the late 19th or early 20th century of the Meiji to early Showa period. Shishi’s were mythical guardian dogs and symbols of protector/slayer of evil . The ones generally when the opened/closed mouth relates to Ah or ‘open mouth’, and Un or ‘closed mouth’. These two sounds symbolize beginning and end, birth and death, and all possible outcomes ‘from alpha to omega’ in the cosmic dance of existence.
It has been hand-carved and lacquered by the artist. It has great detail and is beautifully carved. The artist has signed it on the bottom. The himotoshi or the holes on the bottom are also carved. They are for the netsuke cord are age-appropriate. A beautiful and appropriate carved shishi. It is in excellent antique condition with no cracks or chips but there is some age wear to the bottom. There are some spots around its face and on its ear where he has been painted white, but these are small, I do not feel anything under it, and think they were stratigically placed for highlighting purposes.
Size: Width 1.5 inches or 3.81 cm, Length 1.25 inches or 3.17 cm, Heigth .75 inches or 1.90 cm.
Netsuke, like the inrō and ojime, evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship. Such objects have a long history reflecting the important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. Today, the art lives on, and some modern works can command high prices in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Inexpensive yet faithful reproductions are available in museums and souvenir shops.