An ivory okimono of a scholar reading in his study

19th century, Japan

Height: 11cm Width: 14cm

An ivory okimono depicting an elderly scholar reading a book with Chinese text. He is seated in between a low table and a brazier with a kettle. On the table is an open book with Chinese characters, on top of another closed book. The characters have been carved in tiny detail. Also on top of the table, seeming to be also reading the book, is the figure of Hōtei, (the Japanese reading of Budai), one of the seven lucky gods. Hōtei brings fortune, luck, and happiness to the household. Hōtei was a popular subject for Chinese-style monochrome ink paintings by Japanese literati artists, and so perhaps the inclusion of a figure of Hōtei here, perhaps as a painting reference, suggests that this man is a scholar-painter. Underneath the table is a drawer with a cord handle, and two more books. In front of the scholar is a writing box, and he is holding an uchiwa fan with a cord attached to the handle. He is wearing an overcoat with a leaf design, and his kimono has a floral scroll pattern. The scholar has a long beard, is wearing a soft cap, and his tabi sock is visible. Attached to his belt is a three-layer inro with a stylised chrysanthemum-shaped netsuke.

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