Circa 1800

 

The fox, with forepaws raised as it dances, with a tail providing a natural himotoshi, with a beautiful patina.

 

H. 7.9 cm

 

Provenance:

- Sale, Sotheby’s London, 20th June 2002, lot 633

- Private collection, Europe

 

​In Chinese and Japanese mythology the fox is one of several animals set on doing evil to mankind. In this, it is partly aided by supernatural and demoniac powers, which allow it to shapeshift, more often than not into a woman, young or old (gender stereotypes as old as the hills). It is omniscient and capable of taking possession of its human victims. There are many different Japanese folk tales associated with foxes. In the present netsuke, the fox is probably caught in mid-transformation into a seductress.

​Perhaps the most successful, but certainly best known, netsuke of the subject is illustrated on the cover of the LACMA catalogue of the Bushell bequest of netsuke to the museum.

 

Netsuke of a Dancing Fox

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