antique netsuke

Ito-in netsuke18th century6.3 x 3.7 cmA stag antler "silk seal" netsuke Ito-in are among the oldest netsuke. Originally used as seals for the silks commerced in the port of Hakata near Nagasaki, they all have similar features: the subject is almost invariably a head of a stranger - European or Asian - deformed to adapt to the stag shape. These figures, called "konronjin" bear a fierce expression, maybe becuse they were used also to incute fear to the superstitious local workers who might be tempted to steal the silks. The missing seal was stored in the cavity...

A wood netsuke of an islander19th centuryWooden netsukeHeight 6.5 cmThis netsuke shows a Pacific Islander with a spyglass or telescope. At the time of the opening of Japan to Western trade and religion, there was genuine concern that the inhabitants of the islands would be terrified by the strange attire and looks of the sailors and Sea Captains. To avoid this, a print of a sailing ship and her crew was circulated. At this time, the first Westerners allowed into Japan were the Dutch, who used Pacific Islanders as crew members. The print showed one such Islander with a spyglass...

ShokiKyoto school18th 19th centuryStag antler netsukeHeight 7,8 cm Shoki is represented standing with his sword on his right hand. Shōki’s popularity peaked in Japan during the Edo period, when people began to hang images of Shōki outside their houses to ward off evil spirits during the Boys' Day festival and to adorn the eaves and entrances of their homes with ceramic statues of the deity. Today, Shōki is a minor deity relatively neglected or forgotten by most Japanese, except perhaps in Kyoto city, where residents still adorn the eaves and rooftops of their homes with...

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