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01 Oct 2016

A Netsuke of greater than Two Hundred Thousand Dollars!


A netsuke (net-skeh) is a tiny sculpture created in Japan during a period of above 3 hundred years. The kimono, the original type of Japanese dress, had no pouches. Guys suspended pouches (inro) on a silk cable from their sash (obi). To stop the cable from sliding through “obi”, a small toggle is connected. That little toggle could be the “netsuke”.


The netsuke regarded inside headline for this article ended up being auctioned during the German auctionhouse Lempertz on 27 November 2004. It had been predicted at $60.000,- (Euro 40.000) but ended up being hammered at a sensational US$230.000,- (Euro 154.000). This unusually big (H 5 2/5″) ivory netsuke of a standing Dutchman holding a dead hare over his shoulder which can be attached to a gun, dated later eighteenth Century, stands apart by two qualities: the significantly caricature-like facial functions and elegant dress, including his career as a hunter whoever bait is a sign for the “Southern Barbarian meat eaters”.

The Reason Why US$230.000,-?

The exraordinary hammer cost of US$230.000,- with this specific piece are explained by viewing its history, theme, craftmanship, problem and off training course by its rareness. The object made its method over 100 years in famous netsuke selections, and was already publicized in 1895 by the Japonist art supplier Marcus B. Huish. The representation for the Westerner, especially that of the Dutchman in Japanese art (in woodblock images and netsuke) is a much coveted topic. This because of the striking depiction by the Japanese music artists for this “unusual” folks from another globe giving the beholder a very insightful and comic explanation for the encounter of two completely different countries. The unidentified creator, it really is unsigned, for this specific netsuke needed to be a masterful craftsman because of his magnificent attention for information and its own elegant look. The precise topic for the Dutchman is not uncommon but a quality piece in this symptom in combo featuring its age is a very uncommon find.

Even more examples

Over the past years there are many types of highlights in prices concerning netsukes. On 1990 at auctionhouse Sotheby’s in London a netsuke of a horse ended up being hammered at US$260,000,- and through an anitques supplier at Oriental Treasures and Points western in Honolulu a netsuke representing a “Awabi Girl and Octopus” (like Hokusai’s famous “imagine Fisherman’s Wife” shunga!) ended up being offered at approx. US$250,000.


Netsuke carvers mostly worked in a bounded part of subjects and motifs like scenes of day to day life, animals, erotic encounters (shunga), signs and symptoms of the zodiac or subjects with a mythical history. Whatever its topic or theme netsuke is a very appealing and highly collectable talent while the interesting pieces will only consistently boost in price.


Probably the most referred books among netsuke collectors tend to be Lazarnick’s ‘ The Signature Book of Netsuke’ and from the exact same writer ‘Netsuke & Inro Artists, and just how to see Their particular Signatures’. Both have been granted in limited versions, the first one in 500 copies while the second in 876 copies. These books tend to be unmissable for the severe netsuke enthusiast.

Netsuke Organisations:

International Netsuke Society

International Netsuke Carvers’ Association

Japan Netsuke Society (Nihon Netsuke Kenkyukai)