ROBERT O. KINSEY    Book Number: 86416    Product format: Paperback

'The soul of Nature often can be glimpsed in Japan's poetry - subtle insights also revealed, at times, in netsuke'. This quote perfectly sums up the power of netsuke, small sculptures with a history that extends almost four centuries. Netsuke was originally a functional toggle made from found objects (the Japanese word literally meaning 'root attachment'), but in the hands of artists who used different materials, whether plant, animal, or mineral, they became not simply functional and decorative pieces but focused on inspiration which allowed wearers to see, touch and contemplate the god-spirit of the images. In His Imperial Highness Prince Norihito Takamado's introduction to contemporary netsuke, the qualifier of this class of statue is that this artwork must not only follow in the footstep of traditional netsuke, but also express the awareness, ideas, and sense of the times. Within this collection, you will admire a multitude of netsuke and interpret them in a myriad of ways. Admire Kangyoku's tiger in striped Macassar ebony which matches Teitoku's haiku about the year of the tiger, as well as the floral pieces such as Kodo's plum blossom, cherry blossoms, and a sacred rice straw decoration ('shimenawa') perched on by a hototogisu with a gold sprig of plum blossoms in its beak to signify an early bird's song. Among these images, discover extraordinary 'twists' including Toun's netsuke which depicts a cricket chirping and feasting in an eggplant with the eggplant carved from purpleheart, or violetwood, an attractive hardwood from Central and South America, and Kiho's Hamlet netsuke called 'The Infinite Space of a Nutshell' which is a box-style netsuke carved in the shape of a walnut within which lies an amber sphere, representing the universe, with decorations of the rising sun and a crescent moon and an 18k gold crown of Denmark resting on a semblance of red velvet, inspired both by Hamlet's statement to Rosencrantz of being 'bounded in a nutshell, and count[ing himself] a king of infinite space' (Act II, Scene II), as well as a book by Professor Steven W. Hawking. This beautiful history and gallery of netsuke embraces and celebrates the stories of these exquisite sculptures. 8½" x 10", paperback, colour photos, 160pp. First edition 2004.
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