He discovered pottery at age five; he is an English literature graduate of Cambridge University with a commitment to poetry; after graduation he won a scholarship to study in Japan and he subsequently learnt the language, was exposed to varied Japanese arts, researched the Leach book and saw the netsuke
at his great-great uncle's Tokyo home.
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.
Like Hirshler, de Waal focuses on people, and not the 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 artwork featured in this month's Clip & Save Art Print, a netsuke
(commonly pronounced net-skeh) depicting a monkey with her young child, is as adorable as it is small.
Open it up and you will be drawn into a beguiling story ostensibly tracing the history of 264 Japanese netsuke
, small carvings made from ivory or wood, collected in the 1880s by a cousin of de Waal's great grandfather.
The Hare With Amber Eyes is a wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke
at its heart.
From Damsels and Demons: The Hidden Art of Netsuke
Carving" opens Saturday and runs through July 5 at Portland Japanese Garden.
In "Badger Disguised as a Monk," inspired by a Japanese netsuke
, the enchanted creature tells us, "All motion is forward for a soul / with a pockmarked, bitten past.
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.