Netsuke

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Netsuke

 

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).

REFERENCES

Ueda Reikichi. The Netsuke Handbook. Tokyo, 1961.
Wolf, R. Die Welt der Netsue. Wiesbaden, 1970.
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For example, I handled cigarette cases in Russian gun-metal, studded with diamonds at Meg Armstrong (who specialises in Oriental antiques which were also nicely displayed) and elsewhere, I found 1930s porcelain at the top of the market, along with fine ivory Netsukes, jade, ivory, amber, wonderful silver, beautiful glass and 100 other rarities from fans to religious objects.
David Bowden, the oriental arts dealer showed me some find Netsuke including a miniature ivory elephant studded with rubies and diamonds which could well have come from the studios of the great Russian jeweller, Faberge.
But Mary Deeming, one of the nicest women you could wish to meet, and an oriental specialist, had some wonderful oriental prints by the great Japanese names such as Utamoro along with some elegant Cloisonne carved ivories, Netsukes, Japanese dolls and Satsuma.
Included in the haul were 20 oil paintings by 19th Century English artists, some worth up to pounds 5,000 each, 119 flintlock pistols worth more than pounds 5,000, 14 Nazi dress daggers worth more than pounds 3,500, eight flintlock brass blunderbusses worth around pounds 2,000, 48 Victorian police truncheons worth pounds 4,000, and a collection of Japanese Netsukes figures which may fetch from pounds 500 each.
Stephen Sandy has provided a helpful note in Netsuke Days explaining the meaning of netsuke and its relationship to the short, eidetic lyrics in this book: "Netsuke-toggles, usually ivory, bone or wood; worn by men to secure items to sashes tied over kimono, which lack pockets.