This is a very nice hand carved wood ( Boxwood ) NETSUKE. The carving work is very detailed and lively. Size is about 2" . Artist Signed.This is a lovely piece add to your collection or a great gift for any occassions!
A netsuke is a form of small sculpture which developed in Japan over a period of more than three hundred years. Netsuke served both functional and aesthetic purposes. The kimono, the traditional form of Japanese dress, had no pockets. Women would tuck small personal items into their sleeves, but men suspended their tobacco pouches, pipes, purses or writing implements, on a silk cord, from their obi (sash). These hanging objects are called sagemono. To stop the cord from slipping through the obi, a small toggle was attached.
This toggle is called a netsuke. (The most popular pronunciation is net-ski, while the actual Japanese is closer to netskeh). A sliding bead (ojime) was strung on the cord between the netsuke and the sagemono to tighten or loosen the opening of the sagemono. The entire ensemble was then worn, at the waist, and functioned as a sort of removable hip pocket. All three objects, the netsuke, the ojime and the different types of sagemono were often beautifully decorated with elaborate carving, lacquer work, or inlays of rare and exotic materials, including: wood, ,precious metals, shell, coral and semi-precious stones. All three items developed into highly coveted and collectible art forms but it is the netsuke that has by far, most captivated the collector.
Netsuke come in a wide variety of different materials. The dominant materials are wood. Wood is not restricted to a specific tree but comes in a great number of wooden materials - many unknown outside of Japan. Other than wood, many other materials were used like horn, shell, amber, soapstone or ceramic.
The origin of netsuke is of a rather practical manner. Japanese kimonos had no pockets. The kimono was tied together with a sash or belt, called obi. So everything that you would carry in a pocket was put into a pouch or a box and attached to the sash with strings. The netsuke with two openings for the string to pass, acted as a toggle to prevent the sagemono (everything hanging from the sash) from slipping down from the obi.
The channel or hole carved into the netsuke for the passage of the cord is called the himotoshi. If a netsuke has a natural opening for the cord to pass, one speaks of a natural himotoshi. Far beyond their practical use, they were considered as a status symbol by their owners. Soon netsuke developed from a simple practical object to an impressive piece of art of high standard. Netsuke were in use from at least the early 17th century to the second half of the 19th century. With the Meiji restoration, the Japanese adopted Western clothing, which made netsuke disappear as an item for daily use by Japanese men.
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