Wood and ivory netsuke, The Dream of Rōsei, carved by Kagetoshi


British Museum

British Museum

Chao Lu Sheng (Japanese: Rōsei) was a character of Chinese fable taken up by many artists in Japan, including the famous Hokusai in his Manga. Rōsei dreamed of fame and wealth, and awoke to realize the impermanence of things. The netsuke is minutely carved showing a palace of several storeys with many tiny figures among whom Rōsei lies asleep.

This is one of a group of netsuke by Kagetoshi (died around 1843). He is thought to have lived in Nagoya, where he made work very different from that of his contemporaries. He preferred elaborate small groups and landscapes, working in ivory, boxwood and ebony. He often used the sukashi-bori technique of deep undercutting. His signature is easily recognizable, being deeply cut in a raised rectangular background.

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  • Title: Wood and ivory netsuke, The Dream of Rōsei, carved by Kagetoshi
  • Date Created: 1800/1850
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 4.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: pierced; carved
  • Subject: personal-ornament
  • Registration number: 1945,1017.634
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Producer: Made by Kagetoshi
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Raphael, Oscar Charles