It's small, sometimes funny, scary or touching, it is collected and there are thousands of different. No, this is not the latest trendy toy for your children, but the netsuke, a small 100 years old Japanese sculpture with charm, popular in the auction house.
The traditional Japanese dress, the kimono has no pockets. To carry the common objects of everyday life, men used small bags or boxes attached to the belt by a cord. To block this string an object generalizes from the 17th century, the netsuke. The most popular form of this netsuke is a small sculpture carved on all sides, with two holes for passing the string.
The netsuke, of wood, ivory or porcelain, ceramic or shell, is going to become a preferred medium of the imaginary of Japanese artists. Deities, naturalistic or fantastic bestiary, expressive characters of everyday life or the theater, the topics are endless and will reflect the richness of Japanese culture.
In the 19th century, during the Meiji era, the kimono is abandoned in favor of a more European fashion. The netsuke loses its utilitarian function to become purely decorative. The Empire of the Rising Sun opens to the West. Paris is fascinated, and is enthusiastic about this exotic culture and particularly these mini-sculptures character. Some as the Goncourt brothers begin collections. The Japanese netsuke production will further turn to export.
The many netsukes exposed nowadays auction houses are inherited from this taste for Japanese culture that was born in the late 19th century. All are not equal and it is important to ensure the authenticity of the object. The quality of the sculpture, condition and the subject can vary the price from £100 to more than £6,000. In 2005, a netsuke representing Shoki the giant fighting against demons was sold for over £100,000!
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