Monday, 5 September 2011


I recently finished reading a book called 'The hare with amber eyes'. It is written by Edmund De Waal and tells the history of his family through the journey of a collection of netsuke which his family owned. They started in Japan, where one of his relatives bought a collection of over 160 of them. They then went to Paris, Vienna and then back to Japan, passing through the generations and surviving the second world war en route. It was an interesting way to tell a story as well as a history of the 20th century.

A netsuke acted like a toggle, and was attached to a cord that simply fastened the kimono in place. They were originally simple, utilitarian wooden toggles, but they became more elaborate as time went on and became intricately carved. By the 18th century, all sorts of materials were used from ivory and bone, to coral, jet, amber and even metal. Many subjects were carved, but most depict characters from Japanese history.

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