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Netsuke

Netsuke

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    c.1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Riukei (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood and ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Clarke Thornhill Gift

  • Museum number:

    A.28-1919

  • 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 of a demon in a traveller sack.

In Japanese folklore oni or demons are devious creatures with an ugly appearance capable of causing mischief and misfortune. This finely carved netsuke is humorous in its depiction of the oni as its eyes playfully appear peaking out of the bag. Japanese and Chinese mythology and folklore provided a rich source of inspiration for Japanese carvers due to the rich diversity and fantasy of the subjects.
From the 18th century onwards, many more makers signed their netsukes. This example is signed Riukei.

Physical description

Netsuke in wood of a traveller carrying a bag with a demon peeping out, signed Riukei. The face of the demon is in ivory.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)

Date

c.1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Riukei (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood and ivory

Marks and inscriptions

Signed Riukei

Dimensions

Height: 3.49 cm, Length: 3.49 cm

Descriptive line

Netsuke in wood of a traveller carrying a bag with a demon peeping out, signed Riukei, c.1800, Japan

Materials

Wood; Ivory

Techniques

Carving

Categories

Accessories

Collection

East Asia Collection

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