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An image of Netsuke in the form of a Mongolian archer by Unknown


(Japan  – )

Netsuke in the form of a Mongolian archer
Place of origin
Meiji period 1868 - 1912 → Japan
19th century
Media category
Materials used
carved ivory

10.6 x 4.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Bequest of Henry Albert Nathan 1941
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Traditional Japanese clothes do not have pockets. Some objects such as multipurpose tissues or fans were carried in the bosom (between the front collars) while others, like 'inro' (men's medicine containers) and tobacco pouches, were hung from the waist by a cord which was slipped under the 'obi' (a sash worn around the waist) with a netsuke (toggle) at the other end to stop it from falling. These were fashion statements as well as practical objects, and are often beautiful works of art. 'Netsuke', usually made of wood or ivory/staghorn, represent a wide range of subjects - animal, mythical, exotic, humorous and erotic - and were eagerly collected in the West. The functional hole distinguishes a 'netsuke' from ornamental carved objects.

'Netsuke', The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.223.

Bibliography (1)

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The World of Samurai Culture', Sydney, 2003, 223 (colour illus.).

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