Okimono “Mokugyo and mice”
Meiji, 19-20th century
Signature : Masakatsu
Suzuki Masakatsu (1839-1899)
H: 11cm, L: 23cm
The seven mice nest in a mokugyo , a fish-shaped wooden drum used by monks and laymen in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It is often used in rituals that usually involve the recitation of sutras, mantras and prayers to Buddha.
The mokugyo is mainly used by Buddhists from China, Japan, Korea and other East Asian countries where the practice of mahayana is widespread. In most Zen traditions of Chán it is used to sing the name of Amitabha. The Taoist clergy also adapted the Mokugyo in its rituals.
Suzuki Masakatsu was a son of the famous netsuke master carver, Suzuki Naomasa (1815-1890). He succeeded the family business and became Masanao the 2nd. It is said that his technique was as good as his father who was really famous as a great master of netsuke for his fine carving.