Saturday, 15 January 2011


4. Japanese ivory netsuke.

These netsuke figures are all that remain in my possession from my father's collection of carved ivory pieces. They sat, together with seven intricately carved tusks and other objects, on the mantelpiece at home. Japanese netsuke were basically utilitarian objects, used as toggles on a variety of articles such as purses and tobacco pouches. They were threaded through a cord suspended from the obi.

These pieces came into my fathers' ownership in a curious way. A man came to the house with a sack over his shoulder. My mother, when pressed, was only able to remember that he was 'a foreigner, a man from the East.' He had been told that my father liked to collect china and beautiful objects. From the sack he withdrew a selection of ivories. It was the late 1930's and money was tight and the future uncertain, but the ivories proved irresistible and were bought.

My nephew now owns my father's collection but I have these remaining objects, very precious to me for the memories that they hold.


  1. I'd happily share my home with the bed and the spoon, but for some reason 'netsukes' have never grabbed me. As it used to say in my school reports, I 'must try harder'.

  2. I've just found this blog, Cher - you know I like objects! P.S. Did you know my good friend, Tessa Richardson-Jones when she was alive? Sadly, as I'm sure you know, her hubby Jay died shortly afterwards, and I miss them both. Such a ghastly thing to happen. Sorry about this depressing comment.