Hearst Museum Portal

Carving

Museum number:
9-7613
Permalink:
ark:/21549/hm21090007613
Alternate number:
3-17 (original number), 4-114 (original number), and 5-80 (original number)
Accession number:
Acc.2384
Object count:
1
Description:
Netsuke in ivory, of a man in court dress with sword, bald and an astute face mingled with extraordinary cunning, and the character for "great" inscribed on the back of his robe. Depicts Nakatomi Kamatari Fukiwara, considered the greatest man of Japan.
Donor:
Estate of Geraldine C. and Kernan Robson
Collection place:
Japan
Collector:
Geraldine C. Robson
Collection date:
before 1940
Materials:
Ivory (material)
Object type:
ethnography
Function:
5.7 Objects made for sale, souvenirs, models, and reproductions
Accession date:
1968
Context of use:
Unlikely to be netsuke, since no arrangement has been made for attachment to a cord.
Department:
Cat. 9 - Asia (incl. Russia east of Urals)
Dimensions:
height 6.2 centimeters
Comment:
Per Accession File: (attributed to this number "probably" by someone with an ink pen, written after the original typed document was created) Netsuke in ivory, of a man in court dress with sword, bald and an astute face mingled with extraordinary cunning, and the character for "great" inscribed on the back of his robe. Nakatomi Kamatari Fukiwara, considered the greatest man of Japan. He died in 669, after having established a dynasty for his house which endured until 1160. His youth was set in the time of the great emperor Shotoku Taishi and his equally great prime minister Soga no Umako. They had introduced Buddhism to Japan and the Naka tomi clam, and their chieftains, who were the hereditary chief priests of the Shinto religion, were naturally much put out. Nakatomi Kamatari, who was pressed to take up his duties, refused and went into dignified retirement. Shotoku died in 621, Soga no Umako in 626, leaving his son Yemishi and Yemishi's son, Iruka as heirs to the clan. The Umakos had outreached themselves in their stride for power and incurred the jealousy and hatred of the other nobles. The cunning Kamatori, profited by this situation, enlisted the support of Prince Naka no Oye, and had Iruka assassinated by some mean Straragem, in the presence of the Empress, later killed Yamishi. He then stripped the clans of all their authority and merged it in the Emperor, whom he then made a puppet to the Kamatari dictatorship called "Kwampaku." This was done in the 7th century, was eclipsed in the 8th, due to intestinal [sic] clan troubles, and re-established in the 9th, remaining in power until 1160. His ruling and the rule of his heirs was never out in the open, always covert, behind the emperor. His was not a military power, always that of intrigue calculation, cunning. He and his race were exquisitely cultured, and surrounded themselves with a mise en scene that was always demurely beautiful. See pages and pages of them in in history of Japan. This netsuke is consummately done, to fit the character of the man.
Legacy documentation: