Netsuke: Ashinaga and Tenaga, 18th century
Wood; H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm), W. 1 1/16 in. (2.7 cm), D. 7/8 in. (2.3 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1910 (10.211.2348)
Ashinaga ("long legs") and Tenaga ("long arms") are two mythical figures who utilize their enhanced extremities to capture creatures from the ocean. The pair thus transforms what might at first appear as physical disfigurements into a mutually beneficial attribute. Here Tenaga grasps the day's catch, an octopus, in his left hand. In turn, the octopus' tentacles ensnare Ashinaga's legs and Tenaga's arm, and one tentacle reaches up toward Ashinaga's back.