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an ornamental piece of sculpture measuring from 2 to 10 cm high and made from wood, ivory, or metal. Netsukes were popular in Japan from the late 17th to the 19th century. They were used as toggles to attach a pipe or a tobacco pouch to the sash of a kimono.

The best-known types of netsukes were figurines, which were sometimes arranged to form entire compositions dealing with religious, folkloric, historical, and genre subjects. Other popular netsukes resembled flat disks and often had a carved metallic insert in the center. Netsuke figures maintain an overall monolithic plastic quality, although they are often very emotionally expressive and are fine and accurate in detail. Famous netsuke masters included Suzan (18th century), Rusa (second half of the 18th century), and Tamotada (late 18th and early 19th centuries).


Ueda Reikichi. The Netsuke Handbook. Tokyo, 1961.
Wolf, R. Die Welt der Netsue. Wiesbaden, 1970.
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Netsuke are still being carved and are highly respected art forms.
I learnt that netsuke depict a wide range of subjects--myths, gods, animals and plants and they reflect current events, folklore and culture.
Netsuke are usually accompanied by an ojime, and were intended to secure the inro to the obi.
Bronze casts of Javanese fruit bats appear as gargoyle-like figurines--they "hang" if one follows the spatial twist that suggests the carpet as ceiling--in the supports of two larger shelves that hold accordion-style books displaying stretched photographs of netsuke.
The family would be scattered to the four corners of the globe, its possessions--everything except, miraculously, the netsuke, hidden by a maid in her mattress--stolen.
For example, a carved wood sashi netsuke (Lot 29) depicting a tall armored warrior deity about to plunge a long sword into an oni at his feet is as intricately detailed as any full-size work by a master sculptor.
Like Hirshler, de Waal focuses on people, and not the netsuke.
Netsuke, the book reveals, barely, are rare figurines carved by Japanese Masters of the form that the doctor's wife, Akiko, a visual artist of apparent renown, bestows upon her husband as tokens of something other than affection; her increasingly uneasy commitment or her unconscious knowing of the man to whom she is married.
The Hare With Amber Eyes is a wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke at its heart.
The story begins, oddly enough, with a collection of Japanese figurinessmall, lifelike carvings in wood or ivory, known as netsuke.
From Damsels and Demons: The Hidden Art of Netsuke Carving" opens Saturday and runs through July 5 at Portland Japanese Garden.
The intricately- carved miniature objects - called netsuke - were amassed by Jonas Gadelius, who grew up in Japan and was a member of a Swedish steel manufacturing family.