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  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shuraku (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory and metal

  • 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 were made in a variety of forms, this one being an example of the kagamibuta (mirror lid) type. As the name suggests, it consists of two parts, a bowl and a lid resembling a traditional East Asian mirror. While the bowl is usually undecorated and made of ivory, the metal lid is the focal point of decoration.

In order to produce increasingly imaginative and inventive netsuke, carvers often used designs from books or prints. In this example, the artist has faithfully copied the main design from a page of Manga (Random sketches), a book by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). It shows a man, grimacing and gesticulating, ensnared in the tentacles of an octopus.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


ca. 1850-1900 (made)


Shuraku (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Ivory and metal


Depth: 4.2 cm

Descriptive line

Netsuke of an octopus catching a fisherman, ivory bowl, shibuichi metal and gold disc, signed Shuraku, ca. 1850-1900


Ivory; Metal



Subjects depicted

Man; Octopus




East Asia Collection

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