You may notice that the turtle doesn’t look too happy here…that’s because Octopus, the attending physician of the Dragon King, sent him to steal a liver from a monkey, and he did not succeed. In some stories the liver is supposed to cure the king, and in some the queen, but in all the monkey is able to fool the turtle and escape.
At least I think that’s what’s behind these netsuke. There are many netsuke that feature other creatures on a turtle’s back. It could just be that the tortoise is a symbol of good luck and longevity in Japan, and the other animal and its attributes are along for the ride.
More turtles to come.
And don’t forget Draw-A-Bird Day is tomorrow, March 8.