Netsuke, Shuosai

Netsuke, Shuosai

Netsuke
Shuosai
Japan
About 1800-1850
Museum no. A.63-1915

The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke were made in a variety of forms, the most widely appreciated is the katabori (shape carving), a three-dimensional carving, such as this one in the form of a cock. Netsuke were first and foremost functional and had to comply with certain basic requirements that also imposed practical limitations on them. They had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job, while also being strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching to a cord. Netsuke also needed to be reasonably compact, with no sharp protrusions that might snag on the fabric of the clothing. By depicting a cock pecking at a radish, the artist has skilfully ensured that the tail feathers curl round and do not stick out. This has resulted in a rounded netsuke of as near perfect a form as possible.