unsigned ivory netsuke

19th century

pair of nio guardians wrestling

2 3/8 by 1 5/8 in., 6 by 4.2 cm

both clad in the typical billowing loin cloths that reveal their well-defined musculature, they sit facing each other and lean forward to grasp their opponent's right hand and brace themselves for the struggle; the pupils of their eyes highlighted with dark stain 19th century

Nio are fierce guardians positioned at entrances to Buddhist temples to ward off devils. They are based on the Hindu directional guardians, Indra and Brahma. In Japan they are represented with intimidating physiques and stances to scare off any malignant spirits. Their wrestling is symbolic of the principal of futatsu tomoe- the yin and yang struggle (and balance) of opposing forces, including good and evil.

another view


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
October 21, 2021

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