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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Japan : Ivory Netsuke Depicting a Skull
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Ivory Netsuke Depicting a Skull - CK.0188
Origin: Japan
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 1" (2.5cm) high x .75" (1.9cm) wide x 1" (2.5cm) depth
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Ivory

Location: United States
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Netsuke sculptures are designed to attach the tops of sagemono (containers) – which contained personal items – to the obi (sashes) used to tie the kimono or kosode. They are therefore essentially utilitarian objects, but since the 17th century craftsmen and artists have taken great pleasure in carving ever more complex and detailed themes onto netsuke so that they are now recognised as one of Japan's most notable indigenous art forms. There are various different forms – over and above the thousands of designs – of which the in-the-round carving of kataborinetsuke (lit. “sculpture netsuke) is the best-known. All forms of ivory and bone are used.

Intricately detailed and anatomically correct, this miniature skull is a stunning testament to the remarkable skills of the carver. The is a two character signature on the base of the back of the skull, revealing that the sculptor was deservedly proud of his fine workmanship. This magnificent netsuke is a reminder of the transience of life. - (CK.0188)


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