Circa 1780

The elongated figure is well-worn but carved with skill, with nice characteristics, wearing his cloak of leaves, long robes and his toad on his shoulder.

L. approx. 5.6 cm


The Japanese legend of Gama Sennin ("Toad Immortal") is based upon Chinese Liu Hai Gama Sennin "Toad Immortal" -  Liu Hai: The Sage with the Toad on his back.

He is a benign sage with great magical knowledge about medications and drugs. He is always accompanied by a toad and he can assume the shape of a toad himself.  He can also change his skin and become young again.

Gamma was thought to be able to release his spirit from his body, metamorphose, and fly with the aid of his magical companion. Chinese prototypes of this theme sometimes represent the immortal sitting on or resting his foot on the animal and holding a string of gold coins, with which he is supposed to have lured the toad from its hiding place in a well.

Among popular Japanese symbolic animals are frogs. There are many species of frogs in Japan as a result of flooding rice fields in Japanese agriculture. These creatures are often used in poetry and art, and are sometimes carried by travelers to make sure they return home safely from their journeys. The word ‘frog’ in Japanese means ‘return,’ which is why the frog is considered a Japanese lucky animal and seen as good fortune in things returning.

Fine early Wood Netsuke of Gama Sennin