unsigned ivory netsuke
early 19th century
Inari fox and tama
height 2 1/2 in., 6.5 cm the rice deity dances on its hind legs holding a tama (sacred jewel) up on its right shoulder. its rounded stomach bulges out over the sturdy legs and its bushy tail reaches up to its shoulder, the smooth ivory bears good patina
It is relatively unusual to find an example of a fox carrying a tama (sacred jewel); its power as a deity is considerable but it appears to have borrowed the sacred attribute from the celestial dragon. The dancing fox is supposed to have glanced at its reflection in the water, where it appears as a beautiful young girl. In this depiction the rice deity Inari fox has merged its identity with that of the fox trickster. early 19th century
Expressions of Style: Netsuke as Art, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, August 2001, no. 109


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
December 2, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475