Comprising of about five eels, each with inlaid eyes and detailed fins, crawling all over one another, resulting in an amusing netsuke that is nice to handle and look at from all sides, signed.
L. approx. 4.6 cm
Private collection, United Kingdom
With us, pre-2021
Compare with an original by Jugyoku from the Hull Grundy collection, sold at Sotheby's London, 28th June1978, lot 32. It is possible that this is by Meikei. Compare with one of his in JINCS, 12/3, p. 37
Japanese eels, or unagi, have been an important food source in Japan for centuries where it is found in a variety of kabayaki dishes like unadon (grilled eel rice bowl) which itself has many variant dishes like Nagoya-style hitsumabushi. Unagi is also used in a popular sushi dish called unakyu (unagi and cucumber) but is always cooked, since raw eel isn’t safe to eat.
In Japanese mythology, the source of earthquakes is sometimes said to be the Jinshin-Uwo, a giant eel (or catfish) that lives beneath Japan and shakes the island when it thrashes its body.
The eel, of course, also has dubious connotations in Japan, resembling an important male body part.