Kyoto, circa 1820


Holding a candle end in its front paws and scratching itself with another. The stained ivory has mellowed to a beautiful honey colour, and the eyes of the rat and burnt wick are inlays of dark horn, the tail providing natural himotoshi, signed.

L. 3.8 cm

The subject was treated a number of times by the artist, but the composition is unusual. It is more common to find the rat holding the candle off the ground with both front paws (e.g. the example in the Meinertzhagen Card Index, p. 619), while here it is holding it firmly to the ground while scratching itself, a masterful piece of observation.

Netsuke of a Rat by Yamaguchi Okatomo