Late 19th century, circa 1890

The mask neatly carved, with great expression, smooth to the touch and with a nice honey patina to the back, signed Ittokusai.

H. 4.5 cm



With us, pre-2021


An oni ((おに)) is a kind of yōkai, demon, orc, ogre, or troll in Japanese folklore. Oni are mostly known for their fierce and evil nature manifested in their propensity for murder and cannibalism. Not withstanding their evil reputation, oni possess intriguingly complex aspects that cannot be brushed away simply as evil. Most unfortunate events are attributed to them, like stumbling over your own feet, spilling tea, falling down the stairs or a leakage in the roof.


They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature, and theater and appear as stock villains in the well-known fairytales of Momotarō (Peach Boy), Issun-bōshi, and Kobutori Jīsan. Although Oni have been described as frightening creatures, they have become tamer in modern culture as people tell less frightening stories about them like Oni Mask and Red Oni Who Cried.



Ivory Mask Netsuke of an Oni by Ittokusai