We had several correct guesses for our March What Is It. Jack Chang, M.D. of Englewood, Colorado; Patty Echelmeyer of Denver, Colorado; Dottie Unruh of Lakewood, Colorado; Ronald Moreschini, D.D.S. of Pueblo, Colorado and Fred Clark of Colorado Springs, Colorado all correctly identified the object as a Japanese netsuke.
Here is the story of this netsuke. It is carved by a turn-of-the-century master, Gyoluzan. It is a small boy who dons a lion’s head mask for a New Year’s celebration. This ornate netsuke is in excellent condition. Since Western dress was already widespread in Japan by 1900, the piece was probably designed for, and worn primarily in, the ceremonial occasion that it celebrates. The fine details of lacquer and mother-of-pearl inlay contribute to its value.
Netsukes are very small, usually about 1 1/2 inch tall at most. They usually hung from a double cord running under the wide kimono sash, or obi, and the cord was secured to the top of the sash by a toggle—the netsuke. Since kimonos don’t have pockets, the netsuke held together a small pouch or inro to carry items in. They were always very smooth so as not to snag the fabric of the kimono.
Congratulations to our winners. They will receive a year’s subscription to the Mountain States Collector.