The Catfish




Type: Netsuke

Sold. Ukraine, private collection.

Materials: Pear wood, ebonite.

Dimensions: 92 mm.


Two of us are looking
At yellow leaves swimming by…
I - from the bank, and catfish - from the black depth…
S. O.

Once, while I was fishing on the Ugla River in Vologodskaya region, I met a very interesting fisherman. A couple of times we fished together and I noticed that before settling for a particular fishing spot, this fisherman took a long look into the waters. No matter how long I looked with him, I could not see anything. When I asked him, the fisherman said that he is looking if there are fish in the water near a fishing spot. It took me a while to be able to see what he saw. With time, however, I have learned to distinguish fish profiles through the water, determine the species and what the fish is doing.

Last fall I took a walk along the river early in the morning. To my surprise, very near the bank in the water I saw a huge catfish. I may be exaggerating but at that time it looked like the catfish was at least 1.5 meters long. The catfish was pitch-black and stayed close to the river bottom slowly moving in the current. I think catfish noticed me as well. Each of us stayed in our own place looking at one other, with the yellow and orange willow and alder leaves rustling between us… Some time passed before catfish moved and slowly descended into the dark-green depth of the river… That was an enchanting spectacle!

Once at home, still under the impression of what I saw, I started carving this figurine. I made this netsuke from forest pear wood. Up front, on the catfish's head, one can see beautiful read stains - the result of a grown-in knot. The eyes are inlaid with ebonite. Khimatoshi is on the bottom side. Signature.