Friday, April 8, 2011

The Netsuke

After a nice break I have thought of the perfect topic: the netsuke. Netsuke are relief carved miniature figures previously used in Japan.  The Japanese used boxes (inro) supported by a string,  to carry their items in.  The string was held under a belt and the netsuke was placed at the end of the string above the belt.

An example of a traditionally worn inro and netsuke

Ball-shaped netsuke made of ivory
 The netsuke figures range from simple to highly detailed.  I have seen quite a few in the years I worked in antiques.  The netsuke depicting an old man with a staff was my favorite.  Unfortunately it was out of my price range (over $500). Most often the netsuke are made of ivory, bone, or resin.  Sometimes this is not the case, there are plenty of other netsuke that are made of stone, wood, and other materials. The subject matter ranges from nude women to dragons and other mythological creatures.  Impeccable detail is what sets these beautiful creations away from many other types of small figures.
Detailed netsuke with conch

I did not cover all the details of the netsuke (oriental antiques are not my specialty) but if you are interested here is link to read more about them.