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Netsuke Translation Help Sought


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#1 hddennis

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 01:00 AM

Just acquired this netsuke and would appreciate help in translating the signature and also what was artist portraying in this netsuke that seems to be filled with symbolism I don't understand.

 

Howard Dennis100_2244.JPG 100_2240.JPG 100_2250.JPG 100_2251.JPG



#2 John A Stuart

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 03:32 AM

Sotou, 宗刀 Maybe??? John



#3 hddennis

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 09:08 PM

Anybody have a site I can post this on that would be able to tell me what the carver was trying to portray in this piece? I'd like to know is it a legend, myth, story or what? I'd just like to know what this is representing.

Howard Dennis

#4 Gabriel L

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 06:35 AM

It reminds me of some illustrations of Hotei carrying women / children across a stream, but this doesn't seem to be fat bare-bellied smiling Hotei — it appears to be some kind of half-human, given the toes and face. EDIT: definitely an oni, though why it's carrying a woman I don't know.



#5 John A Stuart

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 04:01 PM

Some believe that Oni can be redeemed and follow the Buddha. Maybe this illustrates this. John



#6 hddennis

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Posted 08 August 2016 - 05:05 PM

Thanks John & Gabriel,  is there any place I can read about Oni? From online searches it seems most are only depicted as wearing a loincloth and the one I found wearing a robe like mine was said to be impersonating a priest. The umbrella and gong below it seem to always be shown but I don't know why. Who is the woman and why the puppy? Some would say just add it to your collection and move on but I'd love to know what the carver was trying to say in this piece.

 

Howard Dennis



#7 hddennis

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 11:28 PM

[attachment=112728:Oni Lot 435 Oni No Nembutsu in monk's garments carrying a drum in his belt and carrying princess Fujihime on his back, who is holding the symbol of youth and spring on her shoulder. Just found a netsuke very similar to mine on Christies auction a few years ago and it's description seems to explain who my netsuke is depicting.  

"Depicting Oni No Nembutsu in monk's garments carrying a drum in his belt and carrying Princess Fujihime on his back, who is holding the symbol of youth and spring on her shoulder"

 

Using this information I did an online search hoping to read about this legend but can't find a thing. Anyone have any ideas or additional information on this story?

 

Howard Dennis

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  • Oni Lot 435 Oni No Nembutsu in monk's garments carrying a drum in his belt and carrying princess Fujihime on his back, who is holding the symbol of youth and spring on her shoulder. (2).jpg


#8 John A Stuart

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 01:47 AM

The Wisteria Princess. http://www.asiantiqu...iantiques.html John



#9 hddennis

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 08:24 PM

Thanks John, I ran across that and several other small bits of information that just teased me. I know the Oni's name, her name, what the branch stands for and apparently he is carrying her across some form of water. I'd love to know why is he now doing good deeds and not being a demon, what is he saving her from and what is his relation to her???

 

Howard Dennis



#10 Malcolm

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 07:12 AM

Hi Howard.,

 

Just a thought, perhaps Nembutsu is not the Oni's name.

 

Nembutsu is also one of the names of the Amida Buddha in relation to Pure Land Buddhism..

 

The Mantra is Namu Amida Butsu, which when chanted  becomes Nembutsu

 

So Oni no Nembutsu could be construed as "Pure Land Demon" i.e. despite his nature, he follows Amida Buddha?

 

But then wouldn't that be Nembutsu no Oni? :dunno:

 

There is also the old story of the two Buddhist monks and the girl.

 

The girl asks the monks to help her cross a stream.

 

The younger pious monk refuses saying he cannot be associated with women.

 

The older monk cheerfully takes the girl upon his back, wades through the stream and sets her down on the other side where she goes off on her journey.

 

Hours later the pious monk stops and says that he is really bothered by the older monks behaviour.

 

The older monk smiles and says "I set the girl down at the other side of the stream....You have carried her all this way!".


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#11 SteveM

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 08:27 AM

I have been googling this on and off for the past weeks, and I haven't come up with a satisfying answer. Be that as it may, I think;

 

1. Oni no nembutsu  is not a name or an oni turning "good". It is an idiom in Japanese, "The prayers of the devil". It is similar to the English phrase "Even the devil can quote scripture". It points at the superficiality and hypocrisy of taking on an outward appearance of piety, while still harboring an evil heart. In other words, a devil dressed in priest's robes is still a devil. If you google for this you will see similar images of devils/oni wearing priestly robes and carrying the drum. It is a popular motif of a certain kind of rustic art. (see below)

 

2. The girl is Fuji musume 藤娘 (Wisteria Maiden). I don't know her story. I don't know why she is being carried by the devil. I know she, along with Oni no nembutsu, is a common motif of traditional, rustic pictures produced in the city of Ōtsu near Kyoto, for the tourists who traveled on the 53 Stations of the Tokaidō. In Japanese these are referred to as Ōtsu-e (大津絵) - Ōtsu pictures. 

 

Some more info here

http://shiga-ken.com...s-now-and-then/

 

I don't know how these two motifs got merged with the one carrying away the other. I should add that Wisteria Maiden became such a popular motif, they started producing kabuki plays with her as a character. I think she just represents an archetype of Japanese femininity. 


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#12 Malcolm

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 09:23 AM

Brilliant Steve!!

 

Could we looking at an object which was made for export with design elements added to suit the commissioning client?

 

In the same way that Armours were put together for export using pieces from different eras which cancelled out each others original purpose?

 

In the U.K., Dr Christopher Dresser (Representing The South Kensington Museum and other interests....) was in Japan for 4 months in 1876/77 and later (1879 - 1882) set up a store (Dresser & Holme) importing a wide range of Japanese Goods  to London.


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#13 hddennis

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 04:07 PM

WOW, I can't thank you fellows enough for continuing research on this for me. I really appreciate the help. To me it's not enough to just fall in love with these little oriental works of art. Besides their artful creation most have an underlying story or moral to tell that needs to be understood to fully appreciate what you have just added to your collection.

Howard Dennis



#14 Malcolm

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 09:07 AM

Hi Guys, you may find these amusing:

 

The prolific woodblock artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi even made a series of Otsu images:

 

 Hodomoyoshi toki ni otsu-e 程芳流行大津絵 (Kuniyoshi's Fashionable Otsu Pictures)

 

https://www.google.c...0.0.lKUK8sPfOIM

 

Oh and by the way, the poet Basho is buried in Otsu:

 

https://en.wikipedia...-Haka-M1932.jpg

 

BTW:

 

Cheers Steve, you provide much inspiration with your on the ground insights and are, in my opinion, a credit to the NMB ethos.


Malcolm


#15 SteveM

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 10:45 AM

Thank you, Malcom. I am, however, standing on the shoulders of giants. 

 

Here is one of the very few things I found with both Wisteria Maiden and Oni no nembutsu (sometimes referred to as Oni no kan'nenbutsu). 

http://www.creyon-nu.../newpage50.html

 

I haven't found anything where the oni is carrying the maiden, so the origins of that particular vignette still eludes me.  


Steve M

#16 Brian

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 07:08 PM

You both are :)

 

:clap: :clap: :clap:


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#17 Bugyotsuji

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 09:49 AM

Having just read this thread may I say firstly how informative it has been, and secondly how it has triggered extraneous thoughts in this old brain.

I have often found, when out drinking for example, how some Japanese men can be fascinated with possibilities, savouring the 'what if?' aspect with wry amusement. An object like an open shellfish can stimulate lascivious images. This can give more enjoyment than the actual act, which could be messy or even dangerous. A devil carrying a pretty woman is a kind of question to the beholder. How pure are your own motives? Would you help a young lady in distress? Would you be tempted to break your vows and take advantage? Would the proximity of her body or body parts arouse wicked thoughts within yourself? Light and dark, innocence and evil, in temporary balance? What WILL happen next?
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#18 hddennis

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 08:02 PM

Having just read this thread may I say firstly how informative it has been, and secondly how it has triggered extraneous thoughts in this old brain.

I have often found, when out drinking for example, how some Japanese men can be fascinated with possibilities, savouring the 'what if?' aspect with wry amusement. An object like an open shellfish can stimulate lascivious images. This can give more enjoyment than the actual act, which could be messy or even dangerous. A devil carrying a pretty woman is a kind of question to the beholder. How pure are your own motives? Would you help a young lady in distress? Would you be tempted to break your vows and take advantage? Would the proximity of her body or body parts arouse wicked thoughts within yourself? Light and dark, innocence and evil, in temporary balance? What WILL happen next?

Thanks for posting this, it's why I brought my question here to get multiple views of it's meaning or message. At first I only saw a demon carrying a maiden but when I noticed the facial expressions they both seem very pleased with themselves and not at all in a stressful situation.

 

Howard Dennis






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