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Sadanaka  貞中, circa 1725-1775

Certification: NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon

Sadanaka 貞中 is sometimes listed under the Tsunenao 常直 name. Indeed, their are pieces incorporating both names on a single piece. When listed as Sadanaka, the family name Iwamoto 岩本 is given, with Banryūken 蟠龍軒 given as his art name. Kyūbei 久兵衛 is the art name associated with a Tsunenao signature. The Sadanaka and Tsunenao signatures both use different kao. He was the chief apprentice of  Ichinomiya Nagatsune, the school founder and one of the preeminent Kyoto machibori (town carver) of his time. Nagatsune is considered the Western counterpart to Somin, of Edo, the Eastern machibori master. Sadanaka is listed as being a jojosaku, or joko artist, an "excellent" artisan (noted as AA in the "Kinko Meikan" translation). 

The theme of rabbits (hare) in the waves is fairly common in Japanese art, a theme quite popular in the Momoyama (~1573-1615) and early Edo periods. This version of the tale appears to have evolved from a version of the story from the "Kojiki" ("Record of Ancient Matters", Japan's oldest extant chronicle) called  the "White Rabbit of Inaba" (Inaba no Shirousagi). In this story, in part, a rabbit tricks the sharks/crocodiles into letting him hop across their backs, allowing him to cross the sea from the Oki Islands to Cape Kita in Inaba, on the main island. This story is referenced in a Noh play called 'Chikubujima' 竹生島, which can also be read Takeojima1, in which one chant paints a surreal picture, roughly translated as, "While the moon floats over the water, a rabbit [the "Moon Rabbit"] runs over the waves... what interesting island [lake] scenery"1. In the Noh play the local is on Lake Biwa, and the island is Chikubu Island with its shrine,  Chikubu Benzai-ten.

The single rabbit of this story has evidently evolved into several related iterations, usually depicting from two (male and female, usually represented by different colors), to many rabbits, hopping among the waves, many times in the presence of the moon. Another fanciful notion relating to the rabbit and wave theme says that 'female rabbits will conceive while running over the waves, in the light of the moon, on the 18th day of August.' It would appear that the theme of this kozuka, having apparently male and female rabbits, incorporates the fertility aspect into the tale.

Shibuichi ground metal with fine and even nanako. Gold and shakudo decoration with very fine details.

Photo by Jack Edick (c) 2010
Photo by Jack Edick (c) 2010

1 Thanks to Setsuko Echigo - Marketing & Communications, The Noh.com http://www.the-noh.com/