Netsuke: The Miniature Sculpture of Japan

Netsuke_the_Miniature_Sculpture_of_Japan

“By the end of the seventeenth century the smoking of tobacco, first introduced by the Portuguese int eh previous century, had increased greatly, and a tobacco pouch or pipe-case was carried by every man of means.”

“The earliest carved netsuke produced in any quantity are the tall figures in wood and ivory which reflect this foreign taste”, “often as much as fifteen cm long”.

“The Chinese are often shown as effeminate and the Dutch as buffoons with large noses; but it is fair to state that native Japanese also are usually shown in a ridiculous light. The keynote of netsuke is detached humor.”

“Thus it is true to say that in the period 1700-1850, netsuke for all their smallness of scale were the main vehicle of Japanese sculptural genius.”

“The period of major production of high quality netsuke lies roughly in the years 1800-1850. Netsuke lost their scholarly bias, became smaller, rounder and more humorous, took on a much wider range of subjects and materials, and reached surprising heights of technical perfection or brilliant cleverness.”

“[Mask-netsuke] represented the ceremonial Buddhist gigaku and bugaku masks, the masks of the No drama, those used in popular festivals, and some which are probably imaginary. It is not known why they were so popular in Edo, which had no ancient mask tradition. It is a question of some interest whether actual mask-makers turned their hands to mask-netsuke.”

“Real objects, suitably polished and sometimes with cord-rings attached, were used; the jaw of a wolf is a striking example in this collection.”

“A most interesting class of netsuke were those which had a primary use… These useful netsuke included watches, sun-dials, flint-lighters, small knives, utensils for the tea ceremony, and ash-trays.”

some quotes I found informative from Netsuke: The Miniature Sculpture of Japan
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