Height: 7.800 cm
Bequeathed by James Hilton
Asia JA 1930.12-17.75
Ivory netsuke depicting Handaka Sonja
18th century AD
Handaka Sonja was one of the sixteen special disciples of the Buddha, called rakan. He is always depicted with his dragon which he keeps in a bowl or gourd bottle. Handaka's pose is skilfully conveyed in this piece. He crouches on one knee, and seems to scratch his dragon's chin almost affectionately.
Netsuke of this type appear in the Sōken Kishō, the earliest authoritative guide to the subject (and also to inrō, purses and sword furniture), published in woodblock-printed book form in Osaka, 1781.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)