About late 18th or early 19th century
Museum no. A.939-1910
The netsuke is a toggle. Japanese men used netsuke to suspend various pouches and containers from their sashes by a silk cord. Netsuke had to be small and not too heavy, yet bulky enough to do the job. They needed to be compact with no sharp protruding edges, yet also strong and hardwearing. Above all they had to have the means of attaching to a 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 tiger. From the 18th century onwards, netsuke were increasingly signed by the craftsman. This example is signed ‘Tomin’. Tomin (late 18th to early 19th centuries) was a follower of Tanaka Minko (1735-1816), the founder of a small group of netsuke carvers in Tsu, Ise province. They both worked in similar styles, producing distinctive tiger netsuke. These are invariably portrayed with the head turned back to the left, the mouth open and with comparatively large paws, while the long tail is curled round the body, as in this example.