Horn netsuke of an reclining ox.
In Japan, the ox (ushi) is the second sign of the zodiac. It is considered usefulness and willingness. Reclining, it is the emblem of Sugawara Michizane (845-903), a great scholar, minister of emperor Daigo (897-930) and statesman of the Heian period. Under the pressure of the Fujiwara family, he was driven into exile to the island of Kyûshû and he rode away upon a bull. Unfairly punished, his memory is rehabilitated after his death. He was deified under the name of Tenjin, god of calligraphy and teaching. Even today, Japanese students still pray to him to bring them luck in their exams.
Japan, Edo period (1603-1868)
Height : 1 in. (2.5 cm) – length : 2.2 in. (5.5 cm) – width : 1.4 in. (3.5 cm)