A two case wood inro. Carved in high relief with a gigantic Shoki standing on a cliff, aggressively peering over a fleeing Oni. A crescent moon denoted in mother of pearl.
The Masanao line from Ise were by and large netsuke makers. Other objects by them are certainly in the scarce category. This is the first Inro we have offered by this lineage. There must be more out there, surely the line of makers didn’t just produce this one, this good, then never make another. The very first Masanao perhaps competed with an accomplished very famous studio in the same prefecture. Minko. This studio simply made it all, and made it well. I suspect Minko and his studio had the market cornered in this respect. The Masanao’s had the pilgrims which had been traveling to the Shinto shrine since the Heian period in large numbers. This probably accounts for the very large numbers of frog netsuke and okimono this line made. A play on words exist between “safe return” and “frog” in Japanese kanji. I cannot think of a better amulet to give to a tourist. This Inro, with all its exclusive facets was surely made for someone that didn’t want the norm and could pay for the luxury.
Masanao. Yamada, Ise. Last half of the 19th Century.