Wooden netsuke of an islander with a spyglass

19 th century

Wooden netsuke

Height: 6.5 cm

This 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 looking out from the ship. It seems, that it was widely believed by the Japanese that the spyglass was part of his anatomy, as all netsuke carvings of this subject show the islander in this pose.


Netsuke for sale. Price on application. Please include item stock number: net-1147


Inventory Nr: 1147

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