Fox-priest #2

Fox-priest netsuke #2
Fox-priest netsuke #2
Fox-priest netsuke #2
Fox-priest netsuke #2
Fox-priest netsuke #2



Type: Netsuke

Sold. USA, private collection.

Materials: Roe deer. Amber, rapana shell, corall and mother-of-pearl inlay.

Dimensions: 75×38×34 mm.


I met a girl in the forest...
Her subtle stride and cunning gaze...
Reminded me of a fox!
S. O.

One of the main characteristics of a fox, known as kitsune in Japanese lore, is its magical power and ability to transform itself into beguiling young women, monks & priests, etc. The kitsune likes to deceive people by creating incredible illusions. Sometimes it enters into a liaison with noble courtiers, warriors, or well-known scholars and artists. Their physical union often results in children with extraordinary abilities, talents and wisdom, and they usually have an exceptional fate. It is also interesting to note that the Latin word for "fox" - "vulpes" - also means "sly, cunning".

I think that the fox in its essence is the embodiment of feminine energy in its original feral manifestation. What woman wouldn't want to possess the fox's magical powers?! What man wouldn't want to have next to him a woman with such qualities?! I even think that every woman possesses such traits somewhere deep inside her spirit. Otherwise what is the origin of this amazing fox persona?

According to some scholarly sources, a kitsune carving of this type alludes to the Kyogen plays "Tsurigitsune" ("The Fishing Fox") and "Kokai" ("The Cry of the Fox"), both originating in the story of a priest of the Eitoku era (1381-1384) who worshipped the rice patron deity Inaba and was protected by the three magic foxes. In the plays, a fox transforms itself into a priest and uses this disguise to warn humans of the dangers of pursuing its fellow animals. On its way back home, it is tempted into eating some bait and is captured.

This netsuke is made from a roe antler and stained. The process of working on this netsuke was similar to my Flowing Brooks technique. I didn't want to completely destroy the antler's form and tried to make the netsuke fit the antler's natural surface and bends.

The sakura blossoms are inlaid with red coral. Their centers are inlaid with Rapana thomasiana shell.

The fox's eyes are inlaid with amber.

The fox is portrayed wearing traditional geta sandals. The sandals are inlaid with black-lip pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) shell.

My signature is on an amber reserve.