This netsuke is a witty rendition of a Japanese allegory on truth and interpretation. A group of six blind men endeavor to describe an elephant, however their attempts are thwarted as none of them are able to describe the entire animal.
Signature: Kuku Josō tō
[ Adam Clark Vroman , Pasadena, CA , 1910; sold to Sage]. ; Margaret Olivia Sage , New York (1910; donated to MMA).
Artist: Ganbun (Japanese, active until 1870s)Date: mid-19th centuryMedium: Single case; lacquered wood imitating bamboo with pewter and silver inlay and gold hiramaki-e Netsuke: bamboo; lacquered wood with gold hiramaki-e and stained ivory inlay Ojime: snail; copperAccession: 13.67.10On view in:Gallery 223
Date: second half of the 19th centuryMedium: Sheath shape; lacquered wood with gold and silver takamaki-e, hiramaki-e, togidashimaki-e, and colored ivory inlay on gold lacquer ground Netsuke: kagamibuta type, lotus pad with frog; stained ivory and metal Ojime: agate beadAccession: 29.100.874On view in:Gallery 223