Circa 1840, signed

Lying neatly side by side, each with its head resting on the hump of the other, and gazing fixedly and affectionately at each other. Their eyes are inlaid with buffalo horn, and the himotoshi are bored into the underside.

Height: 3.2 cm
Width: 3.7 cm
Depth: 3.1 cm

According to the Nihongi chronicle of 720, a camelid (probably a camel) was offered by Korea to the Japanese emperor in September 599; the Shosoin treasury holds a biwa (the musical instrument) decorated with one. This netsuke was probably inspired by the Dutch import to Nagasaki of two pairs of dromedaries from Persia in 1821. They were exhibited in Edo in 1824 and then toured around the country. An anonymous Japanese print in the Metropolitan Museum New York records the animals with a Dutchman and two handlers, presumably Persian or Javanese. (


The Japanese word for both camel and dromedary is rakuda. The word is homophonous with the concept of comfort, and thus the camel has become associated with conjugal ease. There is a very similar unsigned netsuke in the Bushell bequest at LACMA, illustrated in H. Goodall et al., p. 259. Fuld lists only 5 netsuke by artists signing Bunpo



- G. Wilhelm’s report of the Picard sale, in: Bulletin Association Franco-japonaise, n° 46, p. 41, illustrated

- And again in no. 88, p. 43, report of the Piasa sale

- Repeated in Netsuke Kenkyukai Study Journal, 14 /3, p. 46

- Cabinet Portier 100 ans, 1909-2009, p. 122, n° 564



- Sale, Picard at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris 26th May 1994, lot 97

- Sale, Piasa at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris 16th December 2004
- Private Collection, France (consigned to Max Rutherston ltd.)

Prunus Wood Netsuke of Two Dromedaries by Bunpo

  • This netsuke is in the EU, consigned to Max Rutherston