Ivory netsuke of a mythical beast


British Museum

British Museum

The skill and imagination of the best of the early netsuke carvers in ivory produced many exquisite and quite unique objects. Nonetheless they still served a useful purpose. We can imagine some serious-minded merchant going about his business with this grotesquely humorous creature - with its long snout and tusks, stumpy body, and snake-like neck and tail - dangling at his belt.

Netsuke of this type appear in the Sōken Kishō, the earliest authoritative guide to the subject (and also to inrō, purses and sword furniture), published in woodblock-printed book form in Osaka, 1781.

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  • Title: Ivory netsuke of a mythical beast
  • Date Created: 1700/1799
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 5.30cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: personal accessory
  • Registration number: F.817
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Franks, Augustus Wollaston