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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (Made)

  • Date:

    19th century (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mitsuharu (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Clarke Thornhill. Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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 Mitsuharu. Mitsuharu (1770-1838) was a painter for the Kano school, lacquerer and woodcarver predominantly producing lacquer pieces for the shogunate. He was the son of Shuzo and came from a renowned family of lacquerers. His grandson Mitsutoshi became a highly acclaimed lacquer artist during the Meiji era due to his revival of high quality lacquer. Mitsuharu’s netsuke, such as this carving of ginko seeds, are elaborately stained, compact and hold a natural simplicity.

Physical description

Netsuke in ivory of ginko seeds, signed by by Mitsuharu

Place of Origin

Japan (Made)


19th century (Made)


Mitsuharu (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory

Marks and inscriptions

Signed Mitsuharu


Height: 2.5 cm, Diameter: 2.9 cm Base

Descriptive line

Netsuke, ivory, ginko seeds, signed by by Mitsuharu, 19th century, Japan








East Asia Collection

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