Not currently on display at the V&A

Netsuke

late 19th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching the cord. In this example, there are a pair of holes (himotoshi) on the bottom of the sandal. Although netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated is the katabori (shape carving). This is a three-dimensional carving, such as this netsuke.

From the 18th century onwards, many more makers signed their netsukes. This example is signed Masakatsu. This netsuke is highly realistic from the tiny suckers attached to each tentacle to the placement of its limbs. Around the 1750s, netsuke craftsmen carved their subjects in a more realistic style. They became interested in surface texture as illustrated upon this netsuke. The netsuke can be appreciated from all angles and despite its seeming simplicity the subtle details on the squid lend a greater realism to the piece.


Object details
Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Carved Boxwood
Brief description
Netsuke, wood, squid, signed by Masakatsu, late 19th century, Japan
Physical description
Netsuke in wood of a squid, signed by Masakatsu
Dimensions
  • Length: 5.40cm
Content description
Squid, Masakatsu
Marks and inscriptions
(Signed Masakatsu)
Credit line
Bequeathed by C. A. Heimann Esq.
Summary
The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching the cord. In this example, there are a pair of holes (himotoshi) on the bottom of the sandal. Although netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated is the katabori (shape carving). This is a three-dimensional carving, such as this netsuke.



From the 18th century onwards, many more makers signed their netsukes. This example is signed Masakatsu. This netsuke is highly realistic from the tiny suckers attached to each tentacle to the placement of its limbs. Around the 1750s, netsuke craftsmen carved their subjects in a more realistic style. They became interested in surface texture as illustrated upon this netsuke. The netsuke can be appreciated from all angles and despite its seeming simplicity the subtle details on the squid lend a greater realism to the piece.
Collection
Accession number
A.70-1920

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Record createdJune 25, 2009
Record URL
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